01/07/2012 11:04 EST | Updated 03/08/2012 05:12 EST

Argentina president goes home cancer-free

Argentine President Cristina Fernandez never had cancer after all, despite having been diagnosed with the disease last month, her spokesman said Saturday.

Fernandez, 58, had her thyroid gland removed on Jan. 4. Doctors had said they believed the gland was cancerous. But her spokesman Alfredo Scoccimaro told a news conference on Saturday the original diagnosis "has been modified."

"Medical tests have ruled out the presence of cancerous cells in her thyroid gland," he said.

Scoccimarro said Fernandez has been released from Austral Hospital in Olivos, north of the capital Buenos Aires, and is recuperating at her official residence. She is expected to remain on medical leave until late January.

Vice president Amado Boudou will be in charge during her absence, Scoccimaro said.

Fernandez won re-election, with 54 per cent of the vote, in October and is popular among Argentines for her support of welfare programs. The vote was held about a year after her husband, Néstor Kirchner, died of a heart attack. Kirchner himself had been president of Argentina from 2003 to 2007.

She had just begun her second term in office in December when doctors discovered what they said was papillary thyroid carcinoma during a routine checkup

At the time, doctors said she had a cancerous nodule on her thyroid but it had not metastasized, or spread, beyond the nodule.