Chavez expects chemo or radiation

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez (L) attends a mass at the military academy in Caracas July 12, 2011. Picture taken on July 12, 2011.

CARACAS, Venezuela – President Hugo Chavez said for the first time Wednesday that he expects to undergo chemotherapy or radiation treatment, providing the clearest picture yet of his prognosis three weeks after undergoing surgery that removed a baseball-sized tumor.

Chavez provided new details about both his June 20 surgery in Cuba and his post-operation treatment, suggesting he anticipates a long road to recovery from cancer that could include physically taxing treatments in the coming months.

He said in a phone call to state television that he is now starting a second phase of treatment and expects a third phase “that could be a bit hard.” He said the purpose would be to “armor the body against new malignant cells of this type.”

“It would most likely require the use of methods that are known … depending on the evolution and these follow-up diagnoses, but it could be radiation therapy or chemotherapy,” Chavez told state television in a phone call.

The president said such treatment would be to “attack hard, with cavalry, any possibility, anything latent that might be there.” He did not say how soon such treatment might begin.

Chavez still did not reveal what sort of cancer is involved.

He said the operation lasted about six hours and removed a tumor that was “encapsulated.”

“I had a big, big tumor,” Chavez said. “When I saw that image, I said, ‘My God, it’s a baseball.”‘

Since his return to Caracas on July 4, the 56-year-old leader has limited the length of his televised appearances, saying he is under strict orders from his doctors.

Chavez said Wednesday that he is recovering well, and suggested some of his foes hope he does not.

“I have cancer, but not in the way some would want,” Chavez said.

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