Mayor Rob Ford diagnosed with rare cancer

Watch above: Rob Ford diagnosed with rare form of cancer. 

TORONTO – Rob Ford has been diagnosed with pleomorphic liposarcoma, a rare form of cancer, according to Dr. Zane Cohen, the doctor leading the mayor’s care team.

Cohen made the announcement Wednesday afternoon during a press conference at Mount Sinai Hospital.

“We think it’s a fairly aggressive tumour mainly because these types of tumours are slow growing. To get to the size it is now, it’s often several years,” Cohen said, noting the growth was not found during a scan in 2011.

“We are treating this very aggressively, in order to eradicate the tumour.”

Cohen said the malignant tumour was found in the mayor’s abdomen and is approximately 12 centimetres by 12 centimetres. Another tumour, about 2 centimetres in size, was found in his buttock behind the left hip.

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Cohen said pleomorphic liposarcoma can grow in fatty tissue, nerves, muscle or connective tissue and comprises about 1 per cent of all cancers.  He added there was no connection between lifestyle and diagnosis.

READ MORE: Tory, Chow laud Rob Ford as ‘fighter’ in wake of cancer diagnosis

The mayor entered Humber River Regional hospital last week after complaining of unbearable stomach pains before being transferred to Mount Sinai Hospital for further tests. He reportedly underwent two biopsies to determine whether the tumour was malignant.

Now the mayor will begin an “aggressive” treatment plan including recurring cycles of chemotherapy.  Cohen said the mayor will undergo three days of chemotherapy followed by a day of rest. He’ll then be able to leave the hospital for 17 days before returning again for a second round of chemotherapy.

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He said he hopes the chemotherapy will shrink the tumour so surgery can be performed.

Watch: Rob Ford’s doctor revealed the mayor has a rare form of cancer. Mike Drolet has the details

Ford, who until Friday was running for reelection, is now registered as a councillor candidate for Ward 2, the Etobicoke ward he held for a decade before becoming mayor in 2010.

Cohen refused to say whether the mayor should work throughout treatment.

“He may be able to work through. I think he will be able to be functional but he is going to have some rough days; that’s just common sense,” he said.

Cohen also dispelled reports earlier in the week that doctors had performed a biopsy on a tumour in the mayor’s lung.

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‘Rob will beat this’

Prime Minister Stephen Harper said in a statement he was “deeply saddened” to learn of the mayor’s diagnosis.

“The thoughts and prayers of all Canadians are with Mr. Ford and his family at this difficult time,” Harper said. “We wish him a speedy and complete recovery and are certain that he will take on this fight with all of his characteristic tenacity and energy.”

The mayor’s brother Doug Ford, who’s taken his place on the mayoral ballot, issued a statement shortly after Cohen’s press conference calling the mayor an “incredible person” and saying Rob Ford remains “upbeat and determined to fight this.”

“Rob has always been so strong for all of us and now I ask us all to be strong for him. Your kind words and well wishes mean everything to him right now,” Doug Ford said in a statement.

“Rob will beat this.”

Mayoral candidates John Tory and Olivia Chow held a joint press conference shortly after Cohen’s to lend their support to the mayor.

“If Torontonians know one thing about their mayor it is that he is a fighter,” Tory said. “Now that he is in the fight of his life I know all Torontonians are pulling for him.”

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Chow too lauded the mayor as a “fighter” and said she remains optimistic he’ll beat the cancer.

“There’s a lot of love and support out there and since Mr. Ford is so strong and he’s such a good fighter, I hope he can win this battle against cancer,” she said.

Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly, who took over many of the mayor’s duties shortly after the mayor admitted crack use last November, said in a statement the mayor “never backs down from a tough fight.”

BELOW: Global News reporters’ live coverage of the health update on Rob Ford