Hugo Chavez Cancer: Recovering from Surgery

President Hugo Chávez is in stable condtion and recovering with his family after Cuban doctors successfully extracted a tumor in his pelvic area, Venezuela's vice president said.

"President Chávez is in good physical condition," Vice President Elias Jaua told the main chamber of the National Assembly, prompting a standing ovation and cries of "Onward, comandante!"

"A total extraction of the diagnosed pelvic lesion was performed, removing also the tissue surrounding the lesion," Jaua said, reading a statement from the office of the presidency. "There were no complications."

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Jaua did not say when Chávez had the surgery, but said the socialist leader was stable and recovering adequately. The Venezuelan president has said the growth was likely cancerous, but there was no immediate word on whether it was malignant.

"In the coming hours, the tissue studies that will determine the optimal treatment of the lesion will be available," Jaua added. "President Chávez thanks the Venezuelan people from the bottom of his heart for the warm companionship he has received."

Chávez, 57, announced last week that doctors in Cuba had found a new growth about one inch (two centimeters) in diameter in the same area where a baseball-size cancerous tumor was removed last summer.

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He traveled to Cuba on Friday and said he would undergo tests over the weekend and have the operation early this week.

But until Tuesday there was no additional official word on Chávez's health, leaving the rumor mill free to churn unchallenged. Some reports speculated about a purportedly dire prognosis, but none could be confirmed or named their sources.

Venezuelan journalist Nelson Bocaranda, who is considered sympathetic to the anti-Chávez opposition and first broke the news last week that Chávez had again seen doctors in Cuba, said the president had been operated on Monday night.

There were no signs of stepped-up security Tuesday outside a Havana military hospital where many have speculated the surgery might take place, and patients came and went through the hospital doors as normal.

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The parking lot outside the Cimeq facility was filled with vehicles sporting the green license plates of Cuba's Interior Ministry, but few diplomatic plates could be seen. Venezuelan Embassy vehicles all have black license plates beginning with the number 223, and none were present.

Cuba authorities often lay on extra police to protect important visitors, and even close off entire neighborhoods for high-level meetings. But traffic outside Cimeq was moving as normal on Tuesday.

Officials at the Venezuelan Embassy in Cuba have not returned numerous phone calls by the seeking comment over the past several days.

Based on reporting by the Associated Press.

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