SAO PAULO (AP) — Former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva will undergo chemotherapy to treat a cancerous tumor in his larynx, doctors said Saturday.
The tumor was detected Saturday during an examination at Sao Paulo's Sirio Libanes Hospital, the hospital said in a statement, which added that Silva will begin outpatient treatment in the coming week.
Oncologist Artur Katz, one of the doctors attending Silva, told reporters that the former president is in "very good condition."
He said the tumor was not very big and that Silva's chances of a full recovery are excellent.
Katz said it was not possible immediately to say what caused the tumor, adding it could have been sparked by the small cigars Silva used to smoke, or even a virus.
Jose Crispiniano, spokesman for the "Lula Institute," a nongovernmental organization founded by the 66-year-old Silva after he left office, said the former president went to the hospital for a checkup because his throat was hurting him. He said Silva is expected to begin chemotherapy on Monday.
Paraguayan Foreign Minister Jorge Lara Castro, whose country is hosting the 23-nation IberoAmerican Conference in the capital of Asuncion, called the news "very sad."
"Those of us participating in this summit can only lend our solidarity and be there for him during his treatment," he told a news conference.
Silva, known as "Lula" in Brazil and abroad, was elected president of Brazil in 2002 and re-elected in 2006. Under his leadership, Brazil experienced solid growth: The country's international reserves ballooned from $38 billion in 2002 to $240 billion by the end of 2009, inflation was tamed, 20 million people were lifted from poverty and nearly 40 million moved into the middle class.
Unemployment in Brazil hit a record low under Silva, and the currency more than doubled against the U.S. dollar. He also helped the nation win the right to host the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics, the first-ever to be held in South America.
Silva left office with an 87 percent approval rating and managed to get his hand-picked successor, Dilma Rousseff, elected in 2010 to take his spot.
"President Lula is a leader, a symbol and an example for all of us," Rousseff said in a statement. "I am sure that his strength, determination and capacity to overcome all sorts of adversities will help him win this new challenge."
In 2009, Rousseff had a malignant tumor removed from her left armpit at the Sirio Libanes Hospital. She underwent chemotherapy treatment and was given a clean bill of health in August 2010.