Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter said on Wednesday that recent liver surgery revealed he had cancer that had spread to other parts of his body.
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"I will be rearranging my schedule as necessary so I can undergo treatment by physicians at Emory Healthcare," Carter, 90, said in a statement. "A more complete public statement will be made when facts are known, possibly next week."
Carter, a Democrat, served as the 39th president from 1977 to 1981 after defeating Republican incumbent Gerald Ford. He was defeated for re-election in 1980 by Republican Ronald Reagan.
The Carter Center in Atlanta said last week that he had undergone elective surgery at Emory University Hospital to remove a small mass in his liver.
It added that the operation had proceeded without issues and that the prognosis was excellent for a full recovery.
Carter cut short a trip to Guyana in May after feeling unwell and returned to Georgia, where he served as governor and a state senator. He had traveled to the South American country to observe national elections. At the time, the center said only that Carter had departed after "not feeling well."
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Republican Georgia Governor Nathan Deal and his wife issued a statement saying Carter was "in their prayers as he goes through treatment."
Carter received words of sympathy and encouragement via Twitter from former CNN host Larry King: "We go back many years. Stay strong Mr. President."
A Nobel Peace Prize winner and activist on a range of issues from global democracy to women and children's rights, as well as affordable housing, Carter published his latest book last month, titled "A Full Life: Reflections at Ninety."
In July, he gave a wide-ranging interview to Reuters Editor-at-Large Sir Harold Evans on his life from his childhood on a Georgia peanut farm to his presidency. (http://tmsnrt.rs/1f8BND2)
Carter recalled growing up in a home without running water or electricity, at a time when he said the daily wage was $1 for a man, 75 cents for a woman, and a loaf of bread cost 5 cents.
He said the civil rights movement led to important progress toward racial equality in the United States, but lamented "there's still a great prejudice in police forces against black people and obviously some remnants of extreme racism."
(Reporting by Letitia Stein in Tampa and David Adams in Miami; Additional reporting by David Beasley in Atlanta.; Writing by Peter Cooney; Editing by Sandra Maler and Lisa Shumaker)