VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - The Vatican on Wednesday denied an Italian media report that Pope Francis has a benign brain tumor.
"The pope is carrying out his activity with his usual high level of intensity. Spreading unfounded news is gravely irresponsible and is not worthy of attention," spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said in a statement.
The newspaper Quotidiano Nazionale, a national paper based in central Italy, reported on its front page on Wednesday that the 78-year-old pope had secretly flown by helicopter to a small Tuscan town "some time ago" to see a Japanese doctor.
The paper reported that the Argentine pontiff was diagnosed with "a small dark spot on the brain" but that it was curable.
The pope has appeared to be in good health in recent months apart from some leg pain due to the fact that he suffers from sciatica, for which he undergoes regular physical therapy in the Vatican.
(Reporting By Philip Pullella; Editing by Hugh Lawson)