Suffering from prostate cancer, Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin will undergo a medical procedure on Friday, during which he will hand over authority to his deputy, the US defence department said.

“Secretary of Defence Lloyd J. Austin III will undergo a planned, elective, non-surgical, minimally invasive procedure related to a previously identified bladder problem,” the release said.

During the procedure, which will be performed Friday evening Washington time, Austin will be unable to perform his duties and will hand over to his deputy, Caitlin Hicks.

The Pentagon chief underwent surgery for prostate cancer late last year and then underwent lengthy treatment for urinary tract inflammation and fluid buildup in his abdomen. He has been much criticised for trying to hide his health problems.

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