Nepal's PM diagnosed with lung cancer, says minister

Nepalese Prime Minister Sushil Koirala is suffering from lung cancer, the country's information minister said on Thursday, June 26, 2014, contradicting earlier claims by his party that doctors had ruled out the illness. -- PHOTO: AFP
Nepalese Prime Minister Sushil Koirala is suffering from lung cancer, the country's information minister said on Thursday, June 26, 2014, contradicting earlier claims by his party that doctors had ruled out the illness. -- PHOTO: AFP

KATHMANDU (AFP) - Nepalese Prime Minister Sushil Koirala is suffering from lung cancer, the country's information minister said on Thursday, contradicting earlier claims by his party that doctors had ruled out the illness.

Mr Koirala, 75, travelled to New York's Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center last week for treatment after routine tests showed up a spot on his lungs, prompting cancer fears.

"The prime minister has been diagnosed with early-stage cancer of the lung, which is curable," said Mr Minendra Rijal, minister for information and communications.

"We expect he will get better soon after undergoing radiotherapy," Mr Rijal told AFP.

A statement published on the foreign ministry's website said that Mr Koirala's doctors in the US had recommended radiotherapy to treat "the localised lesion of the lung since his chronic bronchitis does not permit a major surgery of the lung".

Mr Koirala, who was a habitual cigarette smoker until he was diagnosed with tongue cancer eight years ago, has been visiting the New York medical facility for annual follow-ups after undergoing surgery.

Mr Dilendra Prasad Badu, spokesman for the Nepali Congress party, headed by Mr Koirala, had earlier said that doctors had diagnosed the prime minister with tuberculosis, not cancer.

"I spoke to the PM today, he is feeling good and expects to be back in Nepal within a week to ten days," Mr Badu told AFP in Kathmandu.

The prime minister took office in February after winning elections on a pledge to deliver a long-delayed constitution to the Himalayan nation within a year.