Brazil's Lula starts cancer therapy, doctors upbeat

Mon Oct 31, 2011 4:30pm GMT

By Jose de Castro

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Brazil's popular former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva started chemotherapy treatment for throat cancer Monday, with his doctors voicing confidence in his chances of being cured within four months.

Tests showed the tumour discovered on his larynx was not an abnormal type of cancer and should respond well to chemotherapy and radiation therapy, said doctors at the Sao Paulo hospital where Lula was being treated as an outpatient.

"The outlook is very good," said Dr. Roberto Kalil Filho, Lula's personal doctor who is part of the team treating him at the Sirio Libanes Hospital, a renowned cancer centre.

"There is no other problem that could worsen the prognosis or raise the chance of collateral effects. We think the chances are very good."

Lula's diagnosis Saturday shocked Brazilians and raised the prospect of political life without the charismatic former union boss, who remains an influential force in Latin America's largest country.

Some analysts and politicians have even speculated Lula could run for the presidency again in 2014 if President Dilma Rousseff were not to seek reelection.

Lula, who turned 66 last week, also had been expected to play a vital role in next year's municipal elections, helping stump for candidates from his left-leaning Workers' Party.

Even if he recovers from cancer, his health raises doubts over his ability to continue playing such an active role in domestic politics, especially if the illness damages his voice box and limits his ability to speak publicly.   Continued...

Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva (L) arrives at Sirio Libanes Hospital to be treated for throat cancer in Sao Paulo October 31, 2011. REUTERS/Nacho Doce
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