Former Brazil president Lula diagnosed with cancer

SAO PAULO, (Reuters) – Brazil’s popular former  president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was diagnosed with throat  cancer today, casting doubt on his political future in  Latin America’s largest economy.
Lula, as he is universally known, is a former metalworker  and union leader who rose from poverty to become Brazil’s first  working-class president. He led the country between 2003 and  2010, a period of robust economic growth in which more than 20  million Brazilians were lifted out of poverty and joined the  middle class.
Speculation has swirled that Lula — who remains immensely  popular in Brazil — could run for the presidency again in 2014  if President Dilma Rousseff, his political protegee, were to  decide not to seek reelection.
Lula, who turned 66 this week, was diagnosed with a  malignant tumor in the larynx and will start chemotherapy in  the coming days, according to Sao Paulo’s Sirio Libanes  Hospital. Rousseff herself was treated for cancer at the same  medical center before taking office in January.
Dr. Artur Katz, an oncologist on Lula’s medical team, told  Brazilian newspaper Folha de S.Paulo that the tumor was not  very big” and that “the odds of a cure are excellent.”
Chemotherapy was chosen over surgery to preserve the  functions of Lula’s larynx, or voice box, he said.
Dr. Paulo Hoff, another oncologist on the team treating  Lula, told local news Web site that the tumor was  localized and had not spread through the neck or to his lymph  nodes. He said Lula would also undergo radiation therapy.
“He’s a fighter,” Finance Minister Guido Mantega said after  visiting Lula in hospital. “There’s no metastasis. Nothing has  spread to other organs and everything was detected.
Lula, who left office with a sky-high approval rating of 87  percent, was expected to play a key role in next year’s  municipal elections, helping stump for candidates from his  left-leaning Workers’ Party, known as the PT.
But it is in the next presidential election in 2014 that  Lula’s role could be key — whatever that role ultimately is.
“The presence of Lula is an extremely important ace in the  hole for the Workers’ Party,” said Latin America analyst  Christopher Garman of the Eurasia consultancy in Washington.

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