Lord Mandelson is tonight recovering in hospital after undergoing an operation on his prostate.
The 55-year-old Business Secretary was admitted to St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington, London, for a “routine”operation after which he was said to be in “good spirits.” He is likely to be discharged tomorrow.
Lord Mandelson, who stood in for Gordon Brown last week during his summer holiday and is widely seen as the unofficial Deputy Prime Minister, was admitted after experiencing bladder problems. His spokesman said it appeared that he was suffering from an enlarged prostate gland.
He added:“The operation is over now, and once we have heard from the surgeon, we will know exactly what it was. But all the expectations are that it is an enlarged prostate gland.”
Lord Mandelson was kept informed of the key decision on the future of Britain's two Vauxhall car plants as GM Motors prepared to reveal which of two bidders would take over the sites.
Soon after his surprise return to the Cabinet last October, he had emergency treatment at St Mary’s for kidney stones after being taken ill. Yesterday’s operation was planned in advance.
The Business Secretary is regarded by colleagues as one of the fittest members of the Government. He jogs, goes to the gym and cycles, although he is said to “miss” the personal trainer he had in Brussels while he was Europe’s Trade Commissioner. He revealed recently that he is on a strict diet which includes on fruit, granola and green tea.
His prostate problem is described as a “benign condition” by doctors. It is common among men, with the NHS estimating that 60 per cent of men aged 60 or over have some degree of prostate enlargement.
After helping Mr Brown see off an attempted coup by Labour MPs, Lord Mandelson was given an expanded department and the title of First Secretary of State in a June reshuffle. He has won praise – even from some old Labour foes – for the way he took the reins while Mr Brown was away and for taking the fight to the Tories over their health policy and remarks by the shadow Commons Leader Alan Duncan that MPs were “on rations” after the controversy over their expenses.
Some commentators said it had been Labour’s best week for many months. Lord Mandelson, while enjoying the limelight, insisted that the Prime Minister was still in charge. He dismissed speculation that he might resign his position as a life peer and become an MP for the second time so that he could run for the Labour leadership.
Prostate problems: The facts
*The prostate gland produces the liquid that accompanies sperm during ejaculation.
*Enlargement, inflammation and cancer are the three main problems.
*Difficulties associated with urinating, whether too hard or too frequent, are the most common complaints of enlargement.
*Urinating is affected because the gland is positioned beneath the bladder and enlargement constricts the urethra tube.
*As men grow older their prostate tends to increase in size which means the majority of men suffer problems during their lifetime.
*Treatment for an enlarged prostate starts with drugs but in some cases surgery is required to relieve the pressure.
*The condition can have a debilitating effect of the lives of patients who can refuse to leave home because they need the loo so often.
*Complete removal of the prostate is limited to cases of cancer.
*Prostate cancer, is the most common form of cancer for men.