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Mandela receives cancer treatment

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa -- Former South African President Nelson Mandela is being treated for prostate cancer, his foundation has announced.

The Nobel Peace Prize winner will receive radio therapy for seven weeks, but his life span is unlikely to be reduced, his office said on Tuesday.

"The cancer is not of a high grade and should not decrease Mr Mandela's life span," the Nelson Mandela Foundation said.

Mandela celebrated his 83rd birthday and the third anniversary of his marriage to former Mozambican first lady Graca Machel on July 18.

The statement said: "Although the clinical picture revealed no alteration in his status, there has been a slight rise in the blood level of the PSA. In view of this a decision was made to biopsy the prostate gland, which confirmed the presence of microscopic cancer within the prostate.

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"Based on current knowledge about this tumour and how it should best be treated, a decision has been made by Mr Mandela's team of doctors to commence treatment on the former president.

"Mr Mandela will undergo a seven-week course of radio therapy with curative intent. This treatment will be localised to the prostate gland and he will not require any surgery or chemotherapy."

His spokeswoman, Zelda la Grange, said Mandela had been monitored regularly for the prostate specific antigen (PSA) that indicates cancer.

She told Reuters: "The cancer is not of a high grade and should not decrease Mr Mandela's life span.

"The former president's general health remains excellent and he will be able to maintain most of his local and overseas commitments.

"He is very positive...We'll leave it to the doctors now. It is definitely not life threatening right now."

Most of Mandela's prostate gland was removed in an operation in 1990.

A member of his medical team told CNN that he underwent surgery for benign enlargement of the prostate, not cancer but a swelling of the prostate.

The doctor said most of the prostate tissue was removed, but some was left behind. The cancer developed in the remaining tissue.

Prostate cancer is very common in men Mandela's age and is not a high grade of cancer.

The medical team member said the treatment was expected to be very effective.

Mandela spent 27 years in apartheid prisons before his release in February 1990 to lead South Africa from white minority rule to full democracy four years later in 1994.

He served as president from 1994 to 1999, when he handed over to his deputy, Thabo Mbeki.

Even at 83, Mandela maintains a hectic schedule, with several meetings and public appearances scheduled most days.

As the chief mediator in talks aiming to solve the Burundi conflict, Mandela often travels across Africa meeting with officials.

He also raises money for schools and clinics, and often appears at the openings of donated schools.

• African National Congress: Nelson Mandela
• Time: Nelson Mandela

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