Venezuela's Chavez heads to Cuba for cancer check-up

Hugo Chavez on 11 October 2011 Mr Chavez's health is the subject of intense speculation

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Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez says he is travelling to Cuba for a health check-up, four months after he had surgery for cancer there.

Mr Chavez - who has also had chemotherapy - said tests would determine if any cancerous cells remained in his body.

The Venezuelan leader has previously described his treatment as successful.

But secrecy about his illness has fuelled speculation that it may be worse than officially stated.

In comments broadcast on Venezuelan state television, Mr Chavez, 57, said he was going to Cuba to undergo "rigorous examinations" to check for cancerous cells, and would "inform the people" on his return to Venezuela.

"Four months ago I was in a very critical situation," Mr Chavez said.

"Thanks be to God, four months have passed and here I am, all in one piece and on my feet."

Mr Chavez, who has been in power since 1999, has said his illness will not stop him from standing for re-election next year.

Last month he denied US media reports that he had been rushed to hospital with kidney failure linked to his cancer treatment.

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