Former President Jimmy Carter announced in a brief statement on Wednesday that he has been diagnosed with liver cancer.
"Recent liver surgery revealed that I have cancer that now is in other parts of my body," Carter said in the statement released by the Carter Center. "I will be rearranging my schedule as necessary so I can undergo treatment by physicians at Emory Healthcare."
The liver is often a place where cancer spreads and less commonly is the primary source of it. Further information is expected to be provided when more facts are known, "possibly next week."
“There's a lot we don't know, but the first task likely will be determining where the cancer originated, as that can help determine what treatment he may be eligible for,” Dr. Len Lichtenfeld, deputy chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society, said. Sometimes the primary site can't be determined, so genetic analysis of the tumor might be done to see what mutations are driving it and what drugs might target those mutations.
On Aug. 3, Carter announced that he had surgery to remove a small mass from his liver.
Carter was the nation's 39th president, serving from 1976 to 1980. He ran for re-election against Ronald Reagan in 1980, but was defeated in a landslide.
Carter is known more by his work outside of office than inside. He founded the Carter Center in Atlanta in 1982 after leaving the White House to promote health care, democracy and other issues globally. He won a Nobel Peace Prize in 2002.
In 1984, the former president and his wife Rosalynn became actively involved in Habitat for Humanity. The organization helps low-income families build their own decent affordable homes, working with volunteers. Once the Carters got involved Habitat experienced a dramatic increase in the number of new affiliates around the country.
Carter completed a book tour this summer to promote his latest work, "A Full Life."
According to Carter, cancer runs in his family. His father, brother and sisters all died of pancreatic cancer. He noted in his memoir that "The National Institutes of Health began to check all members of our family regularly, and my last remaining sibling, Gloria, sixty-four, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and died in 1990. There was no record of another American family having lost four members to this disease, and since that time I have had regular X-rays, CAT scans, or blood analyses, with hope of early detection if I develop the same symptoms."
Carter credits his being the only non-smoker in his family as contributing to his long life.