MADRID – Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is taking an opiate “100 times more potent than morphine” to alleviate the severe pain caused by the spread of cancer in his bones, Spanish daily ABC reported Saturday, citing an “intelligence report.”
In addition to that medication, known as “fentanyl,” doctors also have prescribed “bisphosphonate to combat the metastasis” and “corticosteroids to alleviate the side effects of radiation and chemotherapy,” the newspaper said.
The paper said it had access to the “latest intelligence report” prepared based on “the medical orders of the team of physicians attending to the Venezuelan president.”
The same sources confirm that the leftist head of state “suffers from rhabdomyosarcoma, a cancerous tumor of the muscles attached to the bones, with metastasis.”
In regard to the prognosis, “at least a portion of the medical team estimates, according to the intelligence report, that ‘if there’s no unexpected deterioration, President Chavez could make it to (Oct. 7 presidential) elections.’”
Chavez’s candidacy was registered at the offices of the National Electoral Council on Friday, the first day for parties to present their presidential hopefuls.
According to the report cited by ABC, the side effects of the radiation and chemotherapy Chavez underwent in Cuba, including severe pain and anxiety, are “especially worrisome and at any moment his body will not be able to tolerate them.”
It adds that the treatment is aimed at combating “the spread of the cancer, not eradicating it.”
ABC’s report was published just days after U.S. journalist Dan Rather said Chavez’s cancer is now in the “end stage” and it is “doubtful” he will live to see the results of the Oct. 7 elections.
Rather, citing “a highly respected source close to Chavez who is in a position to know his medical condition and history,” also said the Venezuelan leader has metastatic rhabdomyosarcoma, an aggressive form of cancer that has “entered the end stage.”
“This source says the prognosis is dire and that Chavez is now not expected to live ‘more than a couple of months at most,’” the 80-year-old journalist wrote in an article posted this week on the Web site for his Dan Rather Reports program, which airs on HDNet.
Chavez is seeking re-election for a third time in the Oct. 7 presidential balloting and has a comfortable lead in the polls, but several sources cited by Rather, including the one who revealed the precise form of cancer, told the reporter “they believe it is doubtful the dictator will live to see the results.”
Chavez spent April 30-May 10 in Cuba for radiation treatment that followed a Feb. 26 operation in Havana to have a second malignant tumor removed.
The first tumor was extracted last June, also in Cuba, where the president’s cancer was first detected when he fell ill during an official visit.
Chavez has not released any details about the nature of the cancer, saying only that it was in his pelvic region.
First elected in 1998, Chavez is a controversial figure both at home and abroad who frequently rails against capitalism and U.S. influence in Latin America and has vowed to install “socialism of the 21st century” in Venezuela.
Despite his fiery rhetoric, Venezuela remains a key oil supplier to the United States.