John Edwards said his wife's cancer has returned, but said he will continue his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination.
"The campaign goes on. The campaign goes on strongly," Edwards told reporters, his wife by his side.
John Edwards had canceled a Tuesday evening house party in Iowa to go with his wife to a doctor's appointment, which his campaign described as a follow-up to a routine test she had Monday.
The campaign refused to comment on Elizabeth Edwards' health Wednesday, fueling speculation about a recurrence of the cancer and raising questions about the political future of the 2004 vice presidential nominee.
Edwards put those questions to rest although he said: "Any time, any place I need to be with Elizabeth I will be there _ period."
Mrs. Edwards, 57, was first diagnosed with cancer in the final weeks of the 2004 campaign. The day after Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry and Edwards, his running mate, conceded the election to George W. Bush, Edwards announced that his wife had invasive ductal cancer, the most common type of breast cancer, and would undergo treatment.
Mrs. Edwards underwent several months of radiation and chemotherapy for the lump in her breast. Her husband's campaign has said she had recovered from the illness.
"I don't look sickly, I don't feel sickly. I am as ready as any person can be for that," she said at the news conference.
John Edwards said a biopsy of her rib had showed that the cancer had returned.
The bone is one of the most common places where breast cancer spreads, and once it does so it is not considered curable.
But how long women survive depends on how widespread the cancer is in the bone, and many can survive for years. The longer it takes for cancer to spread after the initial tumor, the better the prognosis. She was diagnosed in 2004.
Chemotherapy and radiation are standard treatments, along with use of drugs that specifically target the bones called bisphosphonates. Other treatments include hormone therapy if the cancer is responsive to estrogen.