MARCH 5 2012 03:29h

Chavez says his cancer has returned

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HAVANA, March 4 (UPI) -- Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who had surgery in Havana last week, said in a televised appearance Sunday that his cancer has returned.

Chavez, 57, said the cancer was a recurrence of the disease he was diagnosed with last June but that tests have ruled out metastasis to organs near the tumor, El Nacional reported. In the televised message, which appeared to have been recorded Saturday, Chavez said his doctors in Cuba were "very optimistic" about his prognosis, though he didn't reveal what type of cancer he has.

El Universal reported Chavez said he would undergo radiation therapy in the coming weeks after a period of recovery from his operation, and that his medical team has not ruled out the use of other complementary therapies.

In his statement, Chavez thanked God, and expressed appreciation for his supporters and his doctors as he continues his "sustained and progressive" recovery, El Nacional said.

"Thanks for all the support and gestures of solidarity," Chavez said.

Chavez also took time to offer his support for embattled Syrian President Bashar Assad and congratulated Vladimir Putin ahead of his victory in Russia's presidential election.