, Paris December 4- French President Francois Hollande revealed Wednesday he had surgery in 2011 for an enlarged prostate, turning the spotlight on a condition that affects millions of men of his age worldwide.
Hollande’s office stressed that the enlargement had been benign and had had no lasting impact on the 59 year old Socialist leader’s health.
But the revelation nevertheless topped news bulletins in France, where the president’s health is a sensitive issue as a result of former leaders having covered up serious health problems for years.
The news also comes hot on the heels of the end of “Movember”, which sees men around the world grow moustaches every November to raise funds and awareness for men’s health of which prostate issues are a big part.
“The President of the Republic Francois Hollande confirms that in February 2011, he was hospitalised for a few days in a urology service at Cochin hospital for a benign prostatic hypertrophy,” the presidency said in a statement.
The statement said “no medical follow up was deemed necessary after the operation,” which took place the year before he was voted in as president and before he was selected as the Socialist Party candidate.
According to the website of Britain’s National Health Service, benign prostatic hypertrophy, or prostate enlargement, is a common condition that affects older men. It is usually not a serious threat to health.
Many believe that having an enlarged prostate means having an increased risk of developing prostate cancer. But, according to medical experts, that is not the case.
“Having an enlarged prostate does not increase or reduce your risk of developing prostate cancer,” said French urology professor Aurelien Descazeaud.
“When people have surgery for an enlargement, the surgeon takes the opportunity to check for any sign of cancer at the same time but the two conditions have strictly nothing to do with each other.”
The prostate, a small gland found only in men, is located between the penis and bladder.
The cause of enlargement is unknown but most experts believe it is linked to changes in hormone levels that occur as men get older.
The symptoms associated with an enlarged prostate are similar to some of those linked to prostate cancer. These can include general discomfort and urinating frequently or with difficulty.
These symptoms can be relieved through medication or, as in Hollande’s case, with surgery under either a local or general anaesthetic.
History of health cover ups
Former president Francois Mitterrand, who ruled France from 1981 to 1995, knew he had prostate cancer from the beginning of his first term but kept it a secret until he was hospitalised in 1992.
Mitterrand, who had also hidden the existence of a secret daughter, Mazarine, from the French people, died in 1996.
Another French president, Georges Pompidou, died in 1974 while still in office, having hidden the fact he was suffering from a form of blood cancer.
Jacques Chirac who succeeded Mitterrand suffered a stroke in 2005, three years after he was re-elected as president, but that was made public at the time.
Hollande’s office said Tuesday that two positive health checks had been made available to the public since he came to power last year, in June 2012 and March 2013, and a number of politicians questioned whether there was any public interest in the publication of details of his health history.
“The number of French men who are faced with prostate problems from around 50 It’s quite commonplace,” Prime Minister Jean Marc Ayrault told RTL radio.
“Shouldn’t we respect this? Do we always have to put people’s private lives on display?”
Bernard Debre, a lawmaker from the opposition UMP party who is also head of the urology department at Cochin hospital, played down the procedure.
“It was nothing. It’s as if we were saying: you know, Francois Hollande was operated for appendicitis when he was seven. So what?” he said.”aware of the danger” posed by such groups.
Zohbi also reiterated the regime’s insistence that Assad would not step down as part of a peace process set to resume next month in Geneva.
“If anyone thinks we are going to Geneva 2 to hand the keys to Damascus over (to the opposition), they might as well not go,” he said.
“The decision rests with President Assad. He will lead the period of transition, if there is one. He is the leader of Syria And he will remain the president of Syria.”