July 10, 2011 / 8:53 PM / 8 years ago

Chavez doesn't have colon cancer or need chemo -ally

* Ex-Chavez VP says he is not gravely ill

* Chavez’s exact condition still not clear

CARACAS, July 10 (Reuters) - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez does not have colon cancer and does not currently need chemotherapy, his former vice president told Colombian media, without detailing Chavez’s exact condition.

Chavez staged a triumphant return to Venezuela on Monday after cancer surgery in Cuba but doubts remain as to whether he is strong enough to run the OPEC nation and whether he will be able to have a full-scale campaign for the 2012 presidential election.

“He is sick but he is not gravely ill,” Jose Vicente Rangel said in an interview with Colombia’s Semana magazine published on Saturday. “I know that the cancer he has is not colon (cancer) and that for the moment he will not need chemotherapy.”

One source close to Chavez’s doctors has told Reuters the president does have colon cancer and will undergo chemotherapy treatment that could last several months.

Officials at the presidential palace did not immediately respond to requests for clarification on the issue. Senior government officials say the president is recovering well but have not said what sort of cancer he was treated for.

Rangel, who was Chavez’s vice president for five years, now works as a journalist and is not a member of the government.

Chavez had a June 10 operation in Cuba to remove a pelvic abscess and later had a second operation for an unspecified type of cancer. (For full coverage click on [ID:nCHAVEZ])

A considerable deterioration of Chavez’ condition could upend politics in Venezuela, which has been dominated for 12 years by his self-styled socialist revolution.

Since returning home, the convalescing Chavez has considerably scaled back his long-winded oratories, such as his Sunday talk show, which sometimes stretched for more than eight hours, opting instead for brief half-hour television appearances. (Reporting by Brian Ellsworth; Editing by Bill Trott)

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