Former Gov. Ann Richards has cancer of the esophagus and will undergo treatment at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, she announced Wednesday.

Richards, 72, went in for tests Monday and got the results Tuesday, said spokesman Bill Maddox. She is waiting to learn from officials at M.D. Anderson as to when she can check in.

"She's facing this challenge," Maddox said.

Richards, a Democrat, was the 45th Texas governor, serving from 1991 to 1995. She lost a re-election bid to George W. Bush in 1994. Since 2001, she has been a senior adviser at Public Strategies Inc., a public relations and lobbying firm.

Richards is thorough about receiving medical checkups, Maddox said. He said doctors are reviewing her tests to determine how advanced the cancer is.

She has had other medical struggles since leaving office. In 194, she was diagnosed with osteoporosis and said in a 2002 interview that she planned to aggressively fight the incurable bone-weakening disease.

"I've never been a hand-wringer," Richards said. "My attitude is that if there's something wrong, make it right."

Richard changed her lifestyle, including her diet and sleep patterns, to help her fight the disease, which had incapacitated her mother.

"Taking care of myself is my gift to my family," she said.