Ireland's Finance Minister Brian Lenihan is suffering from pancreatic cancer, a usually fatal disease.

Lenihan, 50, was considered a future leader of Fianna Fail, the governing party. A lawyer by profession, he was previously Minister for Justice  and is the son of a former Deputy Prime Minister of Ireland, also named Brian Lenihan.

His brother, Conor Lenihan, is also a member of the Irish Parliament.

Lenihan has been very much in the public eye in recent months, creating the very tough budget that was recently passed by the Parliament and which severely constrained public spending and made a series of cutbacks across all government programs. It also put in place a plan to bail out Ireland's banks.

According to broadcast reports, Lenihan underwent tests at the Mater Hospital in Dublin recently and then returned to work. Television station TV3 is reporting that pancreatic cancer was diagnosed -- one of the deadliest forms of the disease.

A statement from the Department of Finance said nothing about any health problems.

"The Minister is well and enjoying Christmas with his family. He does not propose to talk to the media about anything until the New Year."