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Polhil to Have Cancer Operation

May 16, 1990

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Freed American hostage Robert Polhill has a cancerous growth on his left vocal cord and his entire larynx - voice box - will be removed by surgeons on Thursday, doctors at Walter Reed Army Hospital said today.

Polhill was released by his Shiite Moslem captors in Lebanon on April 22, and has spent most of the time since at Walter Reed. His raspy voice prompted an early discovery of the tumor, which proved malignant in biopsy tests, according to Col. Russ Zajtchuk, deputy commander of the hospital.

Polhill’s wife, Ferial, and his mother, Ruth Polhill, were at Zajtchuk’s side when the announcement was made. Polhill remained in his room.

Polhill ″will have a recovery period of about 14 days, and then will be discharged, and then will come back for a course or radiation therapy,″ said Jim Stueve, hospital spokesman.

Stueve said Polhill, 55, already has been working with a speech therapist to learn ways to communicate after his larynx is removed. He said there are ″three or four options″ for that, including use of an electronic device which emulates the voice box.

The spokesman said the prospects for Polhill living a full life after the surgery are ″good.″

″He has a very positive attitude,″ Stueve said.

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