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Czech Republic: President Havel's Condition Improves, Prognosis Good

Prague, 10 December 1996 (RFE/RL) - Doctors monitoring Czech President Vaclav Havel's recovery following last week's cancer surgery say his condition is improving and the prognosis for his recovery is good.

Havel underwent lung surgery December 3. Doctors removed a 15 millimeter malignant tumor along with half of his right lung.

Today, the physicians said microscopic testing proved the tumor was malignant but that it did not spread to the surface of the lung or to adjacent lymph nodes or regions. Dr. Ctibor Povysil said all samples removed during the operation were examined and there was no evidence of carcinogens invading the blood stream or peripheral areas.

"The tumor was well isolated and caught in its initial phase," he said.

Also attending to the president is a visiting cancer specialist from the United States, Robert Ginsberg from Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital in New York. Ginsberg said he arrived this morning at the request of his supervisor at the hospital.

"I was pleasantly surprised. I was expecting to find a very sick patient but the president looks quite well," he said.

Havel is still breathing with the assistance of a respirator. Doctors also performed a tracheotomy to remove secretions from the lungs. The President's chief surgeon, Pavel Pafko, said as with any heavy smoker, Havel has had a secretion build-up in the lungs and is unable to cough it out.

Ginsberg said he expects Havel to remain on a respirator for another three to four days, but does not foresee any further complications.

Doctor Jarmila Dratkova said Havel is in high spirits, reads the newspapers, watches television and is receiving visitors. She said he does not have much of an appetite, but did request a glass of beer and was allowed to drink 100 milliliters. Dratkova said the president stood up today and weighed himself. She said his weight has not changed from prior to the operation.