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Argentine President Undergoes Thyroid Cancer Surgery

Argentina's President Cristina Fernandez Kirchner (file - Nov.3, 2011).

Argentina's President Cristina Fernandez Kirchner (file - Nov.3, 2011).

Officials in Argentina say President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner is recovering well following three-and-a-half hours of surgery to remove a cancerous thyroid gland.

Government spokesman Alfredo Scoccimarro says the president's surgery took place without complications Wednesday, and that she will remain hospitalized for 72 hours. The procedure took place at a Buenos Aires hospital where her supporters gathered outside.

Doctors are predicting that Ms. Fernandez will be able to resume all her duties as president. The vice president, Amado Boudou, will fill in while the 58-year-old president recovers.

Ms. Fernandez was diagnosed last month, but the government said the cancer showed no signs of spreading, and that with treatment, survival rates are excellent.

President Fernandez first took office in December 2007. She was re-elected last October.

Ms. Fernandez is the first woman elected president of Argentina.

The Argentine leader is one of several current or former Latin American leaders diagnosed with cancer. Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff was treated for lymphatic cancer before she took office in January of last year.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez underwent surgery in Cuba last year to remove a cancerous tumor from his pelvic area. Mr. Chavez has never said what type of cancer he has. Former Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was diagnosed with cancer in his larynx last October and underwent chemotherapy, which doctors say shrank the tumor by 75 percent.

On Wednesday, the former president began his first session of radiation therapy. The outpatient sessions are expected to take place Monday through Friday for up to seven weeks.