Lula Leaves Hospital After First Chemotherapy Session

Lula meets Rousseff in hospital Former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva should be released later today from the Syrian-Lebanese Hospital in São Paulo, where he was hospitalized on Monday for treatment of a throat cancer.

Before leaving he should a light lunch. Oncologist Paul Hoff, from the team that deals with the former president, said Lula slept well during the night, after the first chemotherapy session.

The former president was submitted yesterday to the first of a series of three chemotherapy sessions. The next will occur in 21 days. The initial session lasted about three hours so that the treatment would cause less intense side effects.

Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff, together with the finance minister, Guido Mantega, the Secretary-General of the Presidency, Gilberto Carvalho, and the special advisor for international affairs, Marco Aurélio Garcia, visited yesterday the former president. Upon leaving, Rousseff said she is confident Lula will soon recover. She also revealed she found him cheerful and in a good mood.

The hospital is expected to issue today a medical bulletin on the health status of the former president. On October 29, he was diagnosed with a tumor of approximately 3 cm in the larynx. Doctors said the disease is in a stage of development called T2 and has not yet reached the vocal cords.

A biopsy showed that the aggressiveness of the tumor is average and it was caught relatively early. Lula must go through three rounds of chemotherapy later this year and one of radiotherapy in early 2012. Aides to former President said he canceled all trips scheduled through the end of January.

On Thursday, Lula commemorated his 66th birthday and during the party complained of a period of prolonged hoarseness. It was suggested he do some medical exams and he did so on Friday. He spent most of Saturday in hospital recovering from a biopsy.

When news of Lula’s cancer was announced at a Ibero-Latin American summit in Asuncion the president of Paraguay, Fernando Lugo, pointed out that he himself, along with Lula’s successor, Dilma Rousseff, and the president of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, have all had cancer. The president of Ecuador, Rafael Correa, lamented the news but said Lula was “a fighter who was used to winning big challenges.”

The president of the opposition party (PSDB), Sergio Guerra, declared that “Lula still has a big contribution to make to the national political debate,” and sent wishes for his rapid recovery. Roberto Freire (PPS), praised Lula for not hiding the diagnosis. “He acted correctly. It is rare for politicians to be so forthcoming about these things,” he declared.

President Dilma Rousseff sent a personal message to Lula, encouraging him by describing her own case. “As everyone knows, I went through this myself. Thanks to preventive exams my cancer was found early. I went through the same treatment by the competent team of doctors at the same hospital (Hospital Sírio-Libanês) that allowed me a complete recovery. I am certain the same will happen in the case of Lula.”

Smoking and Drinking

According to the president of the Brazilian Society of Clinical Oncology, Enaldo Melo de Lima, when cancer of the larynx, or the voice box, is discovered early, the chances of cure are above 70%. Even in advanced cases, the cure rate is around 50%.

The normal treatment is chemotherapy and radiotherapy. But Melo de Lima says that in some cases surgery may be necessary with the removal of the larynx and loss of voice.

“The main problem with laryngeal cancer is that some patients do not respond to what we call conservative treatment, that is, chemotherapy and radiotherapy, so we have to be more aggressive and remove the larynx that means loss of voice,” explained doctor Melo de Lima.

Brazil’s National Cancer Institute (INCA), reports that smokers have ten times more probability of getting laryngeal cancer than people who do not smoke. And smokers who drink a lot are 43 times more likely to get it

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