Caracas – Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said the cancer treatment he is undergoing will cause him to begin losing his hair in a few days, joking that his new look will remind people of the late actor Yul Brynner.
"You'll surely see a bald Chavez in a few days. Do you remember Yul Brynner? I'll be Yul Chavez," the president said Wednesday in a televised phone call to a meeting of government officials and Venezuelan business leaders.
Brynner, a Russian-born American actor, is best known for his Oscar-winning performance in the 1956 film "A King and I" and for the shaved head he sported for that role and adopted as his trademark appearance.
The president underwent a first round of chemotherapy last week in Cuba after announcing on June 30 that he had been diagnosed with cancer, although he said Saturday on his return to Venezuela that tests did not reveal any "malignant cells" in his body.
Chavez said Wednesday morning that he will have to undergo a second round of chemotherapy soon and a probably a third round at a later time.
His hair will begin falling out due to the "harsh treatment to prevent the malignant cells from regenerating," the president said without indicating in which part of his body the cancer was detected.
"I ask God. We're going to live with you and we're going to win next year's elections," Chavez said in comments to the business leaders.
Chavez underwent surgery in Cuba - Venezuela's top ally - on June 20 to remove a malignant tumor and returned to the communist-ruled island on July 16 for a week of treatment.
The president said upon his return to Venezuela that tests had not detected any cancerous cells but that he underwent chemotherapy during the week because of the risk they might show up again.
Chavez, who turned 57 on Thursday, has been in power for more than a decade and can run again in 2012 after voters ended constitutional term limits in a referendum two years ago.