Just a little over a week ago, former U.S. president Jimmy Carter was reported to have undergone a successful elective surgery at Atlanta's Emory University Hospital, to get a small mass taken out of his liver.

No further details were, at the time, given about his surgery, but the former president was expected to recover quickly.

Now, in a statement made by Carter on Aug. 12, the 90-year-old is found to be faced with a battle against cancer.

"Recent liver surgery revealed that I have cancer that now is in other parts of my body," said the former president. He is going to rearrange his schedule as needed so he can undergo treatment at the Emory Healthcare.

Carter has not given details as to what type of cancer he was diagnosed with, or how far throughout his body it has spread.

"A more detailed public statement will be made when facts are known, possibly next week," Carter added.

Carter's family is known to have a history of pancreatic cancer. His father, his two sisters and his brother died fighting the illness. His mother died of breast cancer.

When it spreads throughout the body, pancreatic cancer can hit other organisms, including the liver. In some cases, it actually originates in the liver itself, and spreads further. The cancer is considered to be at its most advanced stage – Stage IV – when it has already spread from one organ to another. Depending on the type, Stage IV cancer is in general incurable, but it can be treated.

"There are many different possible cancers that Carter could have," said Dr. Robert Mayer a specialist in gastrointestinal cancer at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. He noted that at the age of 90, Carter may likely be unable to tolerate much treatment.

"If chemo is considered it would need to take into account his age," added Mayer, who also emphasized that since the disease is now widespread, the goal of treatment is comfort. Cancer treatment for a 90-year-old is different from that for those in their 60s or 70s.

He did say, however, that he cannot really determine which would be the situation for Carter due to the paucity of information. The Dana Farber Cancer Institute specialist said he does not know what Carter's symptoms are, or what led to the recent liver surgery.

The 39th U.S. President James Earl Carter Jr. has kept an active lifestyle, even at an older age. In a recent visit to Guyana, however, he had to cut his trip short apparently because he was "not feeling well." Liver surgery followed about five months after.

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