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Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez admits his cancer has returned

In a televised address from Cuba, Chavez says he will begin radiation treatment soon

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Chavez fit and healthy on a visit to Denmark back Dec. 2009. Rumours of his health problems began a year later. (Peter Macdiarmid/AFP/Getty Images)

Venezuela's president Hugo Chavez has publicly admitted that the "lesion" he had removed in Cuba last week was a cancerous tumor.

AFP confirms that the surgery Chavez (57) underwent in the capital Havana was to remove a tumor from near his pelvis, the same area where a first tumor was extracted in June 2011.

Chavez says the new tumor measured about two centimeters in length (0.78 inches)and was much smaller than the earlier one, which he described as being "about the size of a baseball". He added that he would begin a new round of radiation treatment once the surgical incisions had healed.

More from GlobalPost: Chavez gets post-op visit from Castro

Reuters says that Chavez's comments about the procedure came at the end of a 90-minute address to Venezuelans, as part of a televised meeting with some cabinet colleagues from Cuba and his brother Adan Chavez.

"I will live! I will overcome!" he is quoted as saying.  He also expressed confidence in his recovery, told jokes, signed state papers and broke into song.

He also dismissed some reports that the cancer may have spread, saying:  "They (doctors) proved the absence of any other lesions either locally, or in nearby organs, or in ones further away. Neither was there metastasis, thank God."

"My recovery is firm, fast and sustained, honestly," he said, but did not say when he would return to Venezuela.

More from GlobalPost: Venezuela awaits Chavez's return from Cuba

Sunday was Chavez's first televised appearance in nine days, Associated Press reports.

The Wall Street Journal says that the secrecy surrounding his health has shaken the nation as it prepares for presidential elections in October.

Chavez is seeking another term after 13 years in power, but the newspaper says this will be the socialist president's toughest electoral challenge to date, explaining that Venezuela is struggling with the world's fastest-growing inflation rate, rampant street crime and frequent shortages of power and basic consumer goods.

More from GlobalPost:  Meet Henrique Capriles, Chavez's first real challenger

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/cuba/120304/venezuelan-president-hugo-chavez-admits-his-cancer-has-re