CARACAS, Venezuela – Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez said a tumor recently removed from his pelvic region was of the same type of cancer as a previous tumor extracted from that part of his body about seven months ago.
Speaking at his first television appearance in nine days, Chávez 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 spoke firmly in footage recorded Saturday in Havana while accompanied by various government ministers and older brother Adán Chávez. The president said his recuperation has been "open, progressive and rapid" in the footage aired Sunday in Venezuela.
Chávez 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.
He has said doctors found the growth in the same pelvic area where a malignant tumor was extracted in June 2011. He flew to Cuba for treatment on Feb. 24, and his absence from the public spotlight since then has sparked speculation about his health.
Chávez 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," Chávez 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."
As he has done in recent weeks, Chávez 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," Chávez 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," Chávez said, "we send our solidarity to the Syrian people and to President Bashar Al-Assad."
Based on reporting by the Associated Press.