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Last Updated: Wednesday, 31 January 2007, 21:06 GMT
Irish minister in TV tumour spot
Conor Lenihan (file photo: August 2006)
Mr Lenihan ignored the lump as he was preoccupied with work
An Irish government minister has publicly thanked a sharp-eyed surgeon who spotted a growth on his face during a television appearance.

Irish Overseas Aid Minister Conor Lenihan said the surgeon, who has not been named, suggested that he seek medical advice after spotting the lump.

Doctors found a tumour which - although benign - required immediate surgery.

The 43-year-old has urged people to get even the smallest symptom checked by their doctor as soon as possible.

Mr Lenihan was taking part in a studio discussion show, Prime Time, on RTE television, the Irish state broadcaster, in December.

I decided to go public because I think there is a tendency among men when something like that happens to ignore it
Conor Lenihan

A viewer, a surgeon in Galway in the west of Ireland, was watching at home when he spotted a lump on the left side of the minister's jaw.

The following day the surgeon rang Mr Lenihan's office in the capital Dublin, and left a message asking him to call back about "a private matter".

The surgeon advised him to see a head and neck specialist immediately.

'Very fortunate'

Doctors discovered a tumour which, although benign, could have caused disfigurement and speech difficulties if it had gone untreated.

The father-of-three told the BBC he was very fortunate: "It was a benign tumour, so to speak. God, I was terribly relieved, obviously, but I was a bit shocked when I got the call."

The minister had noticed a slight lump on his face but said he ignored it because he was preoccupied at work.

"I decided to go public because I think there is a tendency among men when something like that happens to ignore it or almost wish it away or something.

"I think there's an argument - very strong argument - just for people generally to learn from it and say: 'Look, get detected early and find out if you have something like that.'"

Mr Lenihan has since given up smoking and returned to work after making a full recovery.

Conor Lenihan talks to Five Live

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