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Venezuela's Chavez says he's cancer-free
Hugo Chavez says he is free of cancer following chemotherapy, medical exams in Cuba
By The Associated Press

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) ' Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said he is cancer-free because a series of medical exams in Cuba showed no recurrence of the illness following two months of chemotherapy treatments.

The 57-year-old leader announced the test results on live television Thursday after returning from Cuba, saying thorough exams found "there are no malignant cells active in this body."

"I'm free of illness," Chavez said on state television, wearing military fatigues as he arrived in the southwestern town of La Fria.



Crowds of supporters cheered for Chavez as he rode in a caravan to the town of La Grita, where he visited a church that is home to a famed image of Christ, whom Chavez referred to as "the comandante of comandantes."

Red-clad supporters filled a square in the town and waved excitedly to the president.

Chavez said he was becoming ever-more religious Chavez underwent surgery in Cuba in June to remove a cancerous tumor from his pelvic region. He has not revealed where the tumor was located nor the type of cancer with which he was diagnosed.

Chavez underwent four rounds of chemotherapy, both in Cuba and in Venezuela, between July and September. He said that from now on he expects to undergo regular medical checks and repeat the exams every four months.

The leftist president, who was first elected in 1998, is up for re-election in October 2012.

He said that in the coming months he will begin "a new cycle of more accelerated physical recuperation."

Dr. Javier Cebrian, chief of surgery at the University Hospital of Cacacas, said any cancer paitient will need periodic evaluation, but "if the chemotherapy is effective, you don't have to do anything more with the patient," he told The Associated Press. Cebrian has not been involved in treating Chavez.


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