Argentina Prez Cristina Fernandez has cancer

Argentina's center-left president, Cristina Fernandez, has thyroid cancer and will undergo surgery to remove a carcinoma next week, but doctors say her chances of making a full recovery are very high.

Fernandez started her second term in office earlier this month after winning a landslide re-election in October with 54 per cent. Her illness could boost her already high approval ratings due to voter sympathy.

She is scheduled for surgery on January 4 and a 20-day leave of absence afterward during which Vice President Amado Boudou will assume the presidency.

Here are some facts about the president and her diagnosis:

* Fernandez, 58, has been diagnosed with a papillary carcinoma without metastasis, meaning the cancerous cells have not spread. Doctors say that means she has a very high chance of recovery and will not need chemotherapy or radiotherapy. Papillary carcinoma is the most common type of thyroid cancer and is especially common among women.

* It has been a turbulent 14 months for Fernandez, who still wears black as she mourns the death late last year of her husband and predecessor as president, Nestor Kirchner. An outpouring of public sympathy following his death of a heart attack revived her political fortunes and set the scene for her landslide re-election on Oct. 23.

* She vows to deepen the unorthodox, high-growth policies started by Kirchner in 2003 as the country started to recover from the devastating 2001/02 economic crisis. Brisk economic growth and generous welfare spending are popular with many ordinary Argentines, but her combative style and heavy-handed interventionist policies irritate investors and critics.

* Fernandez is one of several Latin American political leaders to be diagnosed with cancer recently, though her diagnosis appears less serious. Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, who had surgery to remove a large tumor from his pelvis in June, says he has been cured after four chemotherapy sessions.

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