Jimmy Carter announces that he has cancer
Former President Jimmy Carter speaks at the opening of a new exhibit, "Countdown to Zero, Defeating Disease" at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, on Jan. 12, 2015. Photo by Mike Segar for Reuters.

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter said on Wednesday that recent liver surgery revealed he had cancer that had spread to other parts of his body.


"I will be rearranging my schedule as necessary so I can undergo treatment by physicians at Emory Healthcare," Carter, 90, said in a statement. "A more complete public statement will be made when facts are known, possibly next week."

Carter, a Democrat, served as the 39th president from 1977 to 1981 after defeating Republican incumbent Gerald Ford. He was defeated for re-election in 1980 by Republican Ronald Reagan.

The Carter Center in Atlanta said last week that he had undergone elective surgery at Emory University Hospital to remove a small mass in his liver.

It added that the operation had proceeded without issues and that the prognosis was excellent for a full recovery.

Carter cut short a trip to Guyana in May after feeling unwell and returned to Atlanta. He had traveled to the South American country to observe national elections. At the time, the center said only that Carter had departed after "not feeling well."

(Reporting by Letitia Stein Tampa, Florida; Writing by Peter Cooney; Editing by Sandra Maler)