US & Canada

Brazil ex-President Lula diagnosed with throat cancer

Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has been diagnosed with throat cancer.

The 66-year-old has a tumour in his larynx, a statement from the Sirio-Libanes Hospital in Sao Paulo said.

"After multiple investigations, initial chemotherapy will start in the next few days. The patient is well," the statement read.

Lula was elected Brazil's president in 2002, the country's first leftist leader in half a century.

He was re-elected for a second term in 2006, and left office in December 2010 with record approval ratings.

The Brazilian constitution prohibits a third consecutive presidential term.

A former union leader, Lula presided over a period of strong economic growth in Brazil during which millions of people were lifted out of poverty.

It was widely reported, in March 2010, that Lula had given up smoking after 50 years.