Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez has been told by doctors that he has less than a year to live.
The 56-year-old who is running for a third six-year term this year, declared himself cancer-free since undergoing surgery in Cuba to remove a tumour and said no 'malignant cells' had been found.
However medical sources close to the controversial leader have countered his claims and insist that his prognosis couldn't be worse, adding that he will be lucky to survive until the presidential elections in October.
Fighting fit: Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez insists he is ready for a third term
Chavez this week resumed his weekly television and radio show after a seven-month pause due to his illness.
During the broadcast, he acknowledged in he was undergoing chemotherapy for ongoing cancer treatment last July after months of speculation about his health.
Brazilian magazine Veja, which claims to have spoken to medics treating Chavez, revealed that the president's cancer, which had been confined to his colon and prostate gland, has now spread into other parts of his body, including his bones.
They also claimed Cuban surgeons botched an operation to remove prostate cancer, which may have caused the disease to spread more quickly.
Venezuelan doctors claim they broke the news to Chavez in August (2011) that the three-pronged approach using chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery had failed, and suggested he be transferred to a specialist cancer centre in Europe, but he refused.
Concern: Doctors are believed to have told Chavez that he won't make it to the presidential elections in October
In September Chavez underwent three more chemo sessions at a clinic on La Orchila, a private Venezuelan island where he has a beach house, but the treatment had no effect on his cancer, it is claimed.
Medical sources claim that, at the end of October, Chavez surprised doctors by telling them he would no longer subject himself to more aggressive treatments that would take him away from his public duties.
He instead opted to undergo only short and less intense bursts of chemo which would allow him to return to the spotlight and begin campaigning for reelection.
Doctors claims that, despite his well-orchestrated public appearances and bold statements, Chavez is seriously ill and knows he has just months to live.
Last month, Chavez, who has been in power since 1999, questioned whether the US had developed a secret technology to give cancer to left-wing leaders in Latin America.
Referring to Fernando Lugo of Paraguay, Dilma Rousseff of Brazil and former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Mr Chavez said their cancer diagnoses were 'difficult to explain using the law of probabilities'.
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17 de Enero de 2012