US & Canada

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has rare 'aggressive' cancer

Rob Ford Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Ford was admitted into hospital on Thursday after an abdominal tumour was detected

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has been diagnosed with a "fairly aggressive" rare cancer, doctors treating him have said.

Mr Ford, 45, has a malignant liposarcoma in his abdomen and will begin chemotherapy within 48 hours.

"I'm optimistic about treatment," said Dr Zane Cohen, who is overseeing his care team.

Mr Ford withdrew from his re-election campaign last week after being diagnosed with the abdominal tumour.

The controversial mayor, who admitted to smoking crack cocaine while in office, maintains a strong support base despite calls for him to resign.

He has also been filmed threatening to kill an unspecified person, as well as making lewd comments about oral sex to journalists.

'A difficult tumour'

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Media captionRob Ford's doctor, Zane Cohen: The tumour "comprises about 1% only of all cancers"

Liposarcoma is a rare cancer of the soft tissue which accounts for only 1% of all cancers, Dr Cohen said at a news conference at Mount Sinai hospital in Toronto.

Mr Ford has a 12cm by 12cm sized tumour in his abdomen and another smaller 2cm tumour in his left buttock, which are believed to have grown within the last three years.

"It's a rare tumour, a very difficult tumour," said Dr Cohen.

But he also said this type of cancer had proved to be more sensitive to chemotherapy than other tumours.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Mr Ford's support has remained reasonably strong despite the drugs scandal

Mr Ford will begin a three-day course of chemotherapy at Mount Sinai hospital within the next 48 hours, Dr Cohen said.

This will be followed by a break of 18 days, and then another course.

Mr Ford will then be scanned to see how his tumour has reacted to the treatment before doctors decide whether to administer more chemotherapy or follow up with radiotherapy or surgery.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Mr Ford's brother Doug will run for mayor instead

Mr Ford was admitted to hospital last week after months of abdominal pain.

The discovery of a tumour prompted him to withdraw his candidacy from the mayoral election on 27 October.

His brother and political confidant Toronto Councillor Doug Ford has replaced him on the ballot.

At the same time, Rob Ford's name was added to the ballot papers to run for councillor in his old constituency of Ward 2 in Toronto's Etobicoke North area, signalling his desire to remain a political force in the city.

Dr Cohen said on Wednesday that it was "impossible to predict" how chemotherapy was going to affect Mr Ford.

"I think he's a pretty strong person," he said.

The other top contenders in the mayoral race are former NDP MP Olivia Chow and businessman and former leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party John Tory.

Rob Ford's troubled mayoralty

  • May 2013: A video surfaces apparently showing him smoking crack cocaine
  • August: He seems intoxicated in an official appearance at a street festival, later says he has smoked "a lot of marijuana"
  • 5 Nov: "I have smoked crack cocaine," the mayor admits, saying he did so "in a drunken stupor"
  • 7 Nov: A second video surfaces showing a foul-mouthed Ford threatening to kill an unspecified person
  • 14 Nov: Ford makes lewd comments about oral sex and says he might have driven while drunk
  • 17 Dec: Ford apologises again, this time for implying, falsely, a Canadian journalist was a paedophile
  • April 2014: Starts re-election campaign
  • May: Halts campaign to begin treatment for substance abuse, as more videos surface

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