Rep. John Lewis to Be Treated for Pancreatic Cancer

Rep. John Lewis, a towering icon of the civil rights movement, announced Sunday that he will begin receiving treatment for stage 4 pancreatic cancer.

The 79-year-old said he was diagnosed during a "routine medical visit and subsequent tests."

"While I am clear-eyed about the prognosis, doctors have told me that recent medical advances have made this type of cancer treatable in many cases, that treatment options are no longer as debilitating as they once were, and that I have a fighting chance," Lewis said in a statement.

One oncologist agreed that there are now better treatments available for the often deadly disease.

"Pancreatic cancer is a cancer that is often "silent." The symptoms can be subtle, and routine blood work may trigger an alarm," said Dr. Sanjay Reddy, an assistant professor in the department of surgical oncology at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia.

"In the case of Rep. John Lewis, it was at a routine visit, per the report, that his condition was discovered," Reddy added in a statement. "One of the most important things to understand is that there are treatment options available. Even for those battling with stage 4 cancer... Through family support, medical advances and self-determination, we can control this disease and provide good quality of life."

Lewis, a Democrat who has served Georgia's 5th Congressional District since 1987, referred to the various battles he has faced throughout his career.

"I have been in some kind of fight -- for freedom, equality, basic human rights -- for nearly my entire life. I have never faced a fight quite like the one I have now," he said.

Following his announcement, there was an outpouring of support for him online, including a tweet from former President Barack Obama.

"If there's one thing I love about @RepJohnLewis, it's his incomparable will to fight," Obama said. "I know he's got a lot more of that left in him. Praying for you, my friend."