Spanish king well after lung surgery on benign growth

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Spain's King Juan Carlos I was doing well after surgery Saturday to remove a growth on his lung which turned out to be benign, a member of his surgical team said.

A first analysis of the small nodule growth taken from his upper right lung showed "no malignancy," Dr Laureano Molins said at a press conference, ruling out a threat of cancer.

The 72-year-old king "is awake and doing very well," Molins said, adding that he would be out of hospital within three or four days and back to work within two weeks.

He would not require any post-operative treatment, Molins said, adding that a medical bulletin would be issued at 1800 GMT and every 24 hours thereafter.

The growth on the monarch's right lung was detected on April 28 and doctors had decided it was necessary to "extract and study" the growth, a palace statement said earlier.

King Juan Carlos had appeared in public Friday evening at a reception for visiting US Vice President Joe Biden and seemed to be in "perfect" health, palace spokeswoman Blanca Gisbert told AFP.

Queen Sofia was by her husband's bedside in the public hospital in Barcelona, the palace said. Prince Felipe, heir to the throne, continued his official visit to Costa Rica, while the king's elder daughter Elena cancelled her participation in an equestrian competition in Valencia.

Born on January 5, 1938, Juan Carlos Alfonso Victor Maria de Borbon y Borbon became king on November 22, 1975, two days after the death of dictator general Francisco Franco.

King Juan Carlos is considered a pillar of democratic Spain, having played a key role during the country's transition to democracy after Franco's long dictatorship and an attempted military coup d'etat in 1981.

Juan Carlos, who likes to joke with journalists and is a keen sportsman, remains very popular in Spain where the monarchy is generally supported, except by Basque, Catalan and extreme-right separatist groups.

Spain's king is the head of the state and the army, but his official role is to represent the unity of the country and to be guarantor of its institutions.

Over the last few years Prince Felipe has taken a more leading role in royal affairs.

© 2010 AFP

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