Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's cancer is now in the "end stage" and it is "doubtful" he will live to see the results of the Oct. 7 elections, U.S. journalist Dan Rather said.

According to Rather, who cited "a highly respected source close to Chavez who is in a position to know his medical condition and history," the leftist head of state has metastatic rhabdomyosarcoma, an aggressive form of cancer that has "entered the end stage."

"This source says the prognosis is dire and that Chavez is now not expected to live 'more than a couple of months at most,'" the 80-year-old journalist wrote in an article posted on the Web site for his Dan Rather Reports program, which airs on HDNet.

Chavez is seeking re-election for a third time in the Oct. 7 presidential balloting and has a comfortable lead in the polls, but several sources cited by Rather, including the one who revealed the precise form of cancer, told the reporter "they believe it is doubtful the dictator will live to see the results."

Chavez spent April 30-May 10 in Cuba for radiation treatment that followed a Feb. 26 operation in Havana to have a second malignant tumor removed.

The first tumor was extracted last June, also in Cuba, where the president's cancer was first detected when he fell ill during an official visit.

Chavez has not released any details about the nature of the cancer, saying only that it was in his pelvic region.

Rather, a respected journalist known for his long career as the anchor of the nightly CBS Evening News program, noted, however, that the information about the type of cancer and Chavez's prognosis comes from a single source and that there is "no other immediate confirmation."

Chavez, first elected in 1998, is a controversial figure both at home and abroad who frequently rails against capitalism and U.S. influence in Latin America and has vowed to install "socialism of the 21st century" in Venezuela.

Despite his fiery rhetoric, Venezuela remains a key oil supplier to the United States. EFE