BOGOTA — Colombia Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez was in good condition Tuesday after undergoing a fresh round of surgery to remove a lesion that he feared might be malignant. But there’s still no word on the long-term prognosis of the ailing president.
On Tuesday, Vice President Elias Jaua announced that doctors in Cuba had successfully removed the “entire lesion and surrounding tissue” from Chávez’s pelvic region. Speaking to the National Assembly, he said the samples would be analyzed “in coming hours to determine the optimal treatment.”
By late Tuesday, however, there had been no official word about those findings.
Most U.S. hospitals have pathology labs directly off the surgery theater, where tissue can be analyzed immediately to determine if it’s malignant, said Gustavo León, a general surgeon in South Florida with more than 30 years of practice.
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“This is something that you can do within minutes,” he said. “You wouldn’t have to wait hours or days for that.”
Chávez, 57, traveled to Cuba on Friday after he announced that doctors had discovered a 2-cm lesion, less than an inch, near the site where a cancerous tumor was removed in June. The president has never said what kind of cancer he had, or what organs were affected, but doctors have speculated that it could be prostate, colon or bladder cancer.
The secrecy surrounding Chávez’s condition has fueled rumors, including persistent reports that the illness had spread. Before heading to Cuba, Chávez speculated that the new lesion might be cancerous but he said the disease had not metastasized. On Tuesday, Jaua said no “neighboring organs” had been affected. He also said Chávez was surrounded by family and has remained in touch with his cabinet.
The health scare comes as Chávez is heading into a tight presidential race Oct. 7 against Miranda Gov. Henrique Capriles Radonski. Chávez has vowed to beat the illness, stay in the race and trounce the opposition.
Over the last 13 years, the charismatic leader has become the face and power behind his government, and some have accused him of stifling potential successors. Chávez did not name a temporary replacement for this trip.
Even so, on Tuesday, Jaua said the medical crisis has shown the government’s institutional strength.
“This has proved that, in tough times, the Bolivarian Revolution has represented and represents the guarantee of stability and strength of Venezuela’s democracy,” he said.
“Chávez will return, live and win,” Jaua said.