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Longtime ABC News anchorman Peter Jennings has been diagnosed with lung cancer.

The network announced today that Jennings, anchor of “World News Tonight,” will begin outpatient treatment next week.


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Peter Jennings (Photo: ABC News)

Jennings is expected to continue anchoring the news during the chemotherapy “to the extent he can do so comfortably,” ABC News President David Westin wrote in an e-mail today to the network’s news staff.

Charlie Gibson, Elizabeth Vargas and others will be sitting in for Jennings as needed.

Jennings is an ex-smoker. ABC News spokeswoman Cathie Levine said the anchorman quit smoking “a number of years ago.”

Jennings wrote an e-mail to his senior staff today:


Dear All – Forgive me the group mailing – but it seems the easiest way to tell a lot of people I care for … about a change in my life.

I have been diagnosed with lung cancer. Yes, it was quite a surprise.

As you all know, this is a challenge. I begin chemotherapy next week. I will continue to do the broadcast.

There will be good days and bad, which means that some days I may be cranky and some days really cranky! Almost 10 million Americans are living with cancer.

I am sure I will learn from them how to cope with the facts of life that none of us anticipated.

In all the years I have worked here I have had the most outstanding support from this news division.

Hundreds of you have been like family. It feels good to have such a family right now.

Peter

According to an Associated Press report, Jennings, 66, has been feeling ill for the past several months and was replaced Saturday on coverage of the pope’s death by anchor Charles Woodruff. He last anchored “World News Tonight” on Friday.

Jennings first began anchoring ABC’s nightly newscast on his own in 1983. His two network rivals, NBC’s Tom Brokaw and CBS’ Dan Rather, both retired recently.

ABC News’ website is featuring a message board for Jennings’ fans to wish him well.

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