Noonan says treatment for cancer on arm ‘went very well’

Minister for Finance reveals details of illness ‘to ensure accuracy and clarity’

Michael Noonan said he had received radiotherapy treatment in St Luke’s Hospital, Dublin, and had undergone an operation last week to remove the sarcoma at Cappagh Hospital. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Michael Noonan said he had received radiotherapy treatment in St Luke’s Hospital, Dublin, and had undergone an operation last week to remove the sarcoma at Cappagh Hospital. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Wed, Jun 4, 2014, 00:16

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan disclosed last night that he had received treatment for cancer over the past three months.

The Limerick TD, who turned 71 a fortnight ago, said he was diagnosed in February with a sarcoma on his right arm. A sarcoma is a form of cancer that can develop in soft tissue such as muscle or joints, or in bones.

In a statement, Mr Noonan said he had received radiotherapy treatment in St Luke’s Hospital, Dublin, and had undergone an operation last week to remove the sarcoma at Cappagh Hospital, the national orthopaedic hospital. “My medical team believe the treatment has gone very well and are upbeat about the prognosis. There is no damage to my shoulder muscle and my risk of recurrence is low,” he said.

Mr Noonan said he would continue to serve as Minister for Finance “at the Taoiseach’s direction”, which has been taken as an indication that the treatment was successful.

Last night, high-level Government figures said there was every expectation he would continue in office. They said the threat to Mr Noonan’s health was not seen at this time to be particularly grave and his role was pivotal in the drive to reestablish Government stability in the wake of last month’s electoral setback.

There has been some speculation recently surrounding Mr Noonan’s health and he said last night that he was disclosing his condition “on foot of queries from media and in order to ensure accuracy and clarity”.

Mr Noonan said he noticed a lump on his right arm in the shoulder area four months ago.

“During late March and April I received five weeks’ radiotherapy at St Luke’s Hospital to shrink the sarcoma,” he said. “Last Wednesday ... the sarcoma was removed at Cappagh Hospital. I was discharged on Saturday 31st May.”

Mr Noonan has adopted a business-as-usual approach to his work and will take Leaders’ Questions in the Dáil today.

His immediate predecessor as finance minister, Brian Lenihan, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in late 2009 and died in June 2011.

Mr Noonan, the senior Minister in the Coalition, has a close working relationship with the Labour Minister for Public Expenditure, Brendan Howlin, who is expected to keep that portfolio under a new Labour leader.