Story Highlights• Elizabeth Edwards has cancer in rib
• Presidential candidate accompanied his wife on a doctor's visit Wednesday
• Candidate's wife was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004
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CHAPEL HILL, North Carolina (CNN) -- Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards said Thursday his wife's cancer has returned but his bid for the White House will continue.
"The campaign goes on," the former senator from North Carolina said at a news conference, contradicting earlier media reports.
John Edwards said tests this week had shown his wife, Elizabeth, had cancer in a rib on her right side. He said the cancer is treatable but not curable.
"We are very optimistic about this," he said, noting that the tumor is small in size and has a "relatively minimal presence."
Elizabeth Edwards, 57, said she was "incredibly optimistic" and said her expectations about the future were unchanged.
"I expect to do next week all the things I did last week. And the week after that, and next year at the same time," she said.
And she wanted her husband to continue his run for the presidency. (Watch the couple explain future plans )
"From our perspective, there was no reason to stop," the candidate said. "I don't think we seriously thought about it."
He said, "You can go cower in the corner and hide or you can go out there and stand up for what you believe in. We have no intentions of cowering in the corner."
Elizabeth Edwards played a key role in convincing her husband to continue his campaign, a source close to both John and Elizabeth Edwards told CNN's Candy Crowley.
"Elizabeth is not going to let him get out," the friend told Crowley before the Edwards news conference.
Elizabeth Edwards said she was fortunate that she felt pain from a cracked rib and got X-rays that revealed the cancer.
Dr. Lisa Carey, the oncologist treating Edwards, categorized the cancer as metastatic Stage 4 cancer, which is largely confined to the bones. She said the prognosis was good. (Full story)
Elizabeth Edwards first underwent treatment for breast cancer after the 2004 campaign in which her husband was the Democratic vice presidential nominee.
John Edwards, who was campaigning in Iowa, cut short the rest of his schedule on Tuesday to be with his spouse. The two went to see the doctor together Wednesday.
The former lawmaker ran for president in 2004 before becoming Democratic nominee Sen. John Kerry's running mate. Edwards announced in December that he would again seek the party's presidential nomination.
Most national polls show him running third behind Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama.
CNN senior political analyst Bill Schneider said that Edwards has campaigned on more liberal stances than he did in 2004.
"He's been reaching out, really, to the liberal activists in the Democratic Party who represent a very significant base of support, particularly in the primaries and the caucuses," Schneider said.
Schneider said Edwards has been banking on winning in the so-called "January" states -- Iowa, Nevada, South Carolina and New Hampshire -- that hold primaries or caucuses in the first month of 2008.
"Basically, the strategy was to make a big shows in the early states, and many polls showed him ahead in Iowa, where he came in second in the 2004 contest, hoping that the momentum created by those, at least a victory, at least one, possibly more states would give him momentum, going into the big states in February," Schneider said.
Immediately after Thursday's briefing, the Edwardses planned to travel to New York and Massachusetts, where their oldest daughter is at Harvard University.
On Tuesday, the Democratic candidate campaigned at Iowa's Biomass Energy Conversion Center, unveiling a plan intended to achieve energy independence and halt global warming. (Watch Edwards declare global warming a "huge emergency" )
Edwards and his wife met in law school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. They married in 1977 and have had four children. Their first child, Wade, was killed in a 1996 car accident.
In her 2006 book, "Saving Graces," Elizabeth Edwards wrote about her life, including cancer treatment and the death of her son.
CNN's Candy Crowley contributed to this report.
Former Sen. John Edwards and his wife, Elizabeth, express optimism Thursday after announcing her cancer has returned.
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