Chavez says he's getting new cancer treatment

In a photo released Friday, Hugo Chavez walks through the hospital in Havana, Cuba, where he was treated.

Story highlights

  • Chavez says he'll undergo radiation treatment for cancer recurrence
  • "There is no metastasis, thanks be to God," he says in a recorded message
  • The Venezuelan leader fought cancer in 2011 and declared himself cured
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez faces a new round of treatment for a recurrence of cancer following abdominal surgery last week, he announced Sunday.
In a recorded statement aired on state television, the 57-year-old Chavez said the tumor that was removed last Monday by doctors in Cuba was smaller than the one that he had removed last June. But he said doctors who examined the growth "confirmed what had they already supposed" -- that it was a recurrence of the initially diagnosed cancer and that it had been completely removed.
"There is no metastasis, thanks be to God," he said. He said he was going through physical therapy following surgery and was about to start radiation treatment.
"We are very optimistic," he said.
The outspoken, flamboyant socialist leader has led Venezuela since 1999 and has pledged to run for reelection in October. But the government released few specifics about his surgery, fueling speculation that his illness would force him from politics.
Chavez had surgery in Cuba on Monday, more than eight months after his earlier operation. The president's appearance, recorded Saturday, was his first on camera since his surgery, and he held up a copy of a Cuban newspaper to confirm the date.
He has not specified the type of cancer he battled last year, but announced in October that his treatment had been successful. But he said his doctors told him that the new growth "required a fast intervention."
"The other one was much bigger," he said. But doctors believed "it was likely ... that given what we had studied, that it was a recurrence."