Chavez shaves his head during chemotherapy

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has appeared with his head almost shaved, saying his hair has begun to fall out because of his cancer treatment.

Chavez said his chemotherapy has been going well, and he joked about his appearance as he presided over a televised ceremony with Cabinet ministers.

"It's a new look," the president said, switching briefly into English with a grin.

The president had said he expected his hair to begin falling out as a result of the chemotherapy. "It indicates the treatment is being effective," he said.

Chavez underwent surgery in Cuba on June 20 to remove a cancerous tumor. He hasn't said what type of cancer he has been diagnosed with or specified where it was located, only that it was in his pelvic region.

On Monday, he denied suggestions it was in the colon, the rectum or the bladder: "None of that is true."

Chavez underwent an initial round of chemotherapy last month to prevent malignant cells from reappearing. He said he is "preparing myself for a second dose," but didn't say when it would begin.

Chavez was animated during the ceremony, breaking into song, taking about German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche and recalling an illustrated magazine he enjoyed reading as a child.

He held up a black-and-white photo of himself as a toddler next to his brother, Adan, and joked: "I have the same haircut."

The 57-year-old leader, a former army officer, said earlier in a phone call on state television that he had asked for a "military cut" as his hair began to fall out.

"I went to bathe and a bit of hair fell out, and last night we called the barber," said Chavez, whose head bore a few small hairless patches.

He has joked that with his nearly shaved head, he may soon start to look like the late actor Yul Brynner.

-AP

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