POSTED: 8:18 a.m. HST, Mar 4, 2012
LAST UPDATED: 8:51 a.m. HST, Mar 4, 2012
CARACAS, Venezuela >> Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez revealed today that a new tumor recently removed from his pelvic region was of the same type of cancer as a baseball-sized growth extracted from that part of his body about seven months ago.
In his first TV appearance in nine days, Chavez said the surgery and follow-up tests showed the tumor was "a recurrence of the initially diagnosed cancer."
He said "the tumor was totally extracted" and noted "the absence of lesions suggestive of cancer neither locally, neither in nearby organs, neither far away ... neither metastasis, none of this thanks to God, to the diagnosis and rapid intervention."
The 57-year-old president said he would spend several weeks recoverings and then "we are going to do radiation treatment in the area ... without discarding other treatment options."
"There isn't fever nor any other sign neither infection, hemorrhage," he said. He called the post-surgery healing "perfect in relation to the time that's passed, and we are already doing physical therapy.
Chavez spoke firmly in footage recorded Saturday in Havana while accompanied by various government ministers and older brother Adan Chavez. The president said his recuperation has been "open, progressive and rapid" in the footage aired Sunday in Venezuela.
Chavez said "still it hasn't been six days because the operation ended on the night of last Sunday." He verified the date of the recording by displaying a Saturday copy of the Cuban government newspaper Granma and a similar copy of the Venezuelan government paper Correo del Orinoco.
"We are very optimistic," he said while seated at an oval table. "There is a very favorable medical evolution, the vital signs very favorable."
He has said doctors found the growth in the same pelvic area where a malignant, baseball-sized tumor was extracted in June 2011. He underwent several weeks of radiation treatment in 2011.
Chavez flew to Cuba for his most recent surgery on Feb. 24, and his absence from the public spotlight since then has sparked speculation about his health.
Chavez phoned into a show Friday on Venezuelan state television when he said he was recovering well.
"Everyone who has been operated on knows ... the impact of an operation of various hours," Chavez said in the most recent footage. "And how, above all the first day when the body begins to awaken, the pains begin, the obstacles, after one goes step by step recovering the functioning of the body, like I am recovering it."
He added, "Since almost the second day, I began to walk. For this, I say thanks to God, to everybody."
He was shown in a white-walled room, in front of paintings of Cuban independence leader Jose Marti and South American hero Simon Bolivar. With no one taking over his duties in Venezuela, Chavez issued instructions to government ministers in the footage and approved the budgets of various state-owned companies.
As he has done in recent weeks, Chavez defended Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, who has tried to violently crush a popular revolt in much of the Middle Eastern country. Venezuela has at least twice sent shipments of diesel oil to Syria over the past months.
"We continue lamenting the aggressions against Syria," Chavez said, "and the pressure of the United States government and many European countries, failing to recognize the sovereignty of a people such as the Syrian people."
"From here," Chavez said, "we send our solidarity to the Syrian people and to President Bashar Al-Assad."