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Kylie begins cancer treatment


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SYDNEY, Australia (CNN) -- Pop singer Kylie Minogue has begun treatment for breast cancer at a private Catholic hospital in the southern Australian city of Melbourne.

Sources said the 36-year old singer would undergo surgery later this week, at the Calbrini Hospital in Malvern, according to media reports.

Surgery would usually involve cutting out just the cancer if it is small enough, or removing the entire breast, followed by radiotherapy and possibly chemotherapy.

Minogue suddenly cancelled her pending Australian "Showgirl" tour on Tuesday announcing via her promoter, that she was battling early stage breast cancer.

Family friend and pop music identity Molly Meldrum told media the singer began treatment Wednesday.

"The process definitely started (yesterday)," Meldrum said.

"They say they caught it at an early stage and with a thing like this you can have radiotherapy."

Fans and friends have rallied to support the singer, who had been holidaying in Melbourne with her boyfriend French actor Olivier Martinez when she discovered she had cancer.

Australian Prime Minister John Howard, whose wife underwent surgery for cancer in 1996, wished Minogue a full recovery.

"I think all Australians feel for her and wish her well and hope it has been detected in the very early stages and she will make a full recovery," Howard said.

A statement on Minogue's Web site said it was operating a reduced service to cope with the huge number of visitors since news of her illness was announced.

Minogue rose from an Australian teenage soap-opera actress in the 1980s to international stardom as one of the world's top pop singers.

The music star, who is signed to recoprd label EMI, was worth about Aust. $60 million ($46 million), according to a 2004 list of rich young Australians compiled by BRW magazine.

Breast cancer is the biggest cause of cancer deaths in Australian women, with almost 12,000 women diagnosed with the disease each year, according to the National Breast Cancer Center.

The latest available statistics show 2,594 women died from breast cancer in Australia in 2001.

As there is currently no means of preventing breast cancer, the medical focus in reducing deaths from the disease has been on early detection.

Early breast cancer means the cancer is usually confined to the breast, has not spread to vital organs, and can be surgically removed, according to the National Breast Cancer Center.


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