September 17, 2014 / 9:29 PM / 5 years ago

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford diagnosed with rare cancer

(Reuters) - Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has a very rare and aggressive type of cancerous tumor in his abdomen, his doctor said on Wednesday, adding he would start chemotherapy treatment within days.

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford makes his closing remarks during a mayoral debate hosted by the Canadian Tamil Congress in Scarborough, Ontario July 15, 2014. REUTERS/Fred Thornhill

Ford, who made international headlines with his admission that he smoked crack cocaine while in office, was hospitalized last week after having unbearable abdominal pains. He dropped out of the mayoral race last week.

In a briefing on Wednesday, Toronto doctor Zane Cohen said the mayor had malignant liposarcoma, a type of cancerous tumor that arises in fat cells in deep soft tissue.

Cohen called it a “very rare” and “very difficult” type of tumor, noting that malignant liposarcoma makes up just 1 percent of all cancers. However, he was also optimistic about Ford’s treatment prospects.

“The plan will be, initially, chemotherapy,” said Cohen. “There may or may not be radiation involved, there may or there may not be surgery involved, it will all depend on the response to the initial treatment, and subsequent treatments as well.”

Ford’s politician father, Doug Ford Sr., died of colon cancer less than three months after being diagnosed in 2006.

Last week, Ford dropped his bid for re-election minutes ahead of a Sept. 12 deadline and was replaced by his brother and campaign manager Doug Ford. The mayor will instead run for a safe city council seat.

While doctors found the tumor last week, they did not reveal it was cancer until Wednesday.

Ford said in an interview in the Toronto Sun newspaper on Saturday , he was “shocked” and “devastated” and had to quit the race to focus on his health.

“It’s not good,” Ford was quoted as saying about his preliminary diagnosis. “I guess the good Lord wants me somewhere else.”

In May and June, the mayor underwent rehab for drug and alcohol abuse. He emerged noticeably thinner though still obese. Ford said he regretted not getting treatment “years ago” to treat his alcohol addiction.

Reporting by Julie Gordon in Vancouver and Andrea Hopkins in Toronto; Editing by Jeffrey Hodgson and Cynthia Osterman

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