Former President Jimmy Carter says cancer gone from brain

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Jimmy Carter Says He's Cancer-Free

(Reuters) -- Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter delivered an unexpected message on Sunday to the several hundred people gathered at a Baptist church in Georgia for his Bible lesson - his latest brain scan showed no sign of cancer.

Carter, 91, started treatment in August for melanoma that had spread from his liver to his brain. A previous MRI test showed the four spots of cancer that had developed on his brain were responding to treatment, he said.

"When I went this week, they didn't find any cancer at all, so I have good news," Carter told the crowd at Maranatha Baptist Church in his hometown of Plains, Georgia, according to a video from NBC News.

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Former President Jimmy Carter says cancer gone from brain
About 300 volunteers, including former President Jimmy Carter, and wife, Rosalynn, worked on houses in Baltimore, Maryland and Annapolis on Tuesday, October 5, 2010, as part of a weeklong nationwide project with Habitat for Humanity. (Amy Davis/Baltimore Sun/MCT via Getty Images)
Former President Jimmy Carter waves to onlookers as he and wife, Rosalynn, worked with other volunteers for Habitat for Humanity in Baltimore, Maryland, Tuesday, October 5, 2010. About 300 volunteers worked on houses in Baltimore and Annapolis as part of a weeklong nationwide project. (Amy Davis/Baltimore Sun/MCT via Getty Images)
About 300 volunteers, including former President Jimmy Carter, and wife, Rosalynn, worked on houses in Baltimore, Maryland and Annapolis on Tuesday, October 5, 2010, as part of a weeklong nationwide project with Habitat for Humanity. (Amy Davis/Baltimore Sun/MCT via Getty Images)
About 300 volunteers, including former President Jimmy Carter, and wife, Rosalynn, worked on houses in Baltimore, Maryland and Annapolis on Tuesday, October 5, 2010, as part of a weeklong nationwide project with Habitat for Humanity. (Amy Davis/Baltimore Sun/MCT via Getty Images)
Former US president Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn Carter take part in a Habitat for Humanity project October 4, 2010 in the Ivy City neighbourhood of Washington, DC. AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC-OCTOBER 04: Former President Jimmy Carter and jis wife Rosalynn join city and state officials, Habitat for Humanity leadership and volunteers for Habitat for Humanity's Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Work Project in Washington, D.C. on October 4, 2010. A total of 86 homes will be built, rehabilitated or repaired in Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Maryland, Annapolis, Maryland, Minneapolis and St Paul, Minnesota and Birmingham, Alabama. (Photo by Marvin Joseph /The Washington Post via Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - OCTOBER 09: Former president Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, work on building a home during Habitat for Humanity's Carter Work Project event in the Globeville Neighborhood in Denver, October 09, 2013. Since 1984 the former president and his wife have dedicated a week of their time to help build Habitat homes. (Photo By RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - OCTOBER 09: Former president Jimmy Carter, bottom right, joins others working on building a home during Habitat for Humanity's Carter Work Project event in the Globeville Neighborhood in Denver, October 09, 2013. Since 1984 the former president and his wife have dedicated a week of their time to help build Habitat homes. (Photo By RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON - OCTOBER 04: Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter listens during the kick-off of an all-week construction project to mark the World Habitat Day and the annual Habitat for Humanity Carter Work Project October 4, 2010 in the Ivy City neighborhood of Washington, DC. Carter was recently released from an Ohio hospital after being treated for a viral infection. Under the project a total of 86 homes will be built, rehabilitated or repaired in Washington, D.C.; Baltimore and Annapolis, Maryland; Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota; and Birmingham, Alabama. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - OCTOBER 09: Former president Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, work on building a home during Habitat for Humanity's Carter Work Project event in the Globeville Neighborhood in Denver, October 09, 2013. Since 1984 the former president and his wife have dedicated a week of their time to help build Habitat homes. (Photo By RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
Former US president Jimmy Carter (R) waves as Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister Sok An (L) smiles during a ceremony to inaugurate a new housing project in Oudong, Kandal province, some 50 kilometers north of Phnom Penh on November 21, 2009. The volunteers for Habitat for Humanity will build or repair 166 homes in Cambodia, China, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam during a November 15-20 tour, the Atlanta-based Christian group said. AFP PHOTO/TANG CHHIN SOTHY (Photo credit should read TANG CHHIN SOTHY/AFP/Getty Images)
Former US president Jimmy Carter (L) waves with his wife Rosalynn (R) during a ceremony to inaugurate a new housing project in Oudong, Kandal province, some 50 kilometers north of Phnom Penh on November 21, 2009. The volunteers for Habitat for Humanity will build or repair 166 homes in Cambodia, China, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam during a November 15-20 tour, the Atlanta-based Christian group said. AFP PHOTO/TANG CHHIN SOTHY (Photo credit should read TANG CHHIN SOTHY/AFP/Getty Images)
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The former Democratic president, known for his unassuming style, offered a quick smile as people who had come for the Sunday School class he teaches gasped and clapped.

In a brief written statement afterward, Carter confirmed his most recent brain scan "did not reveal any signs of the original cancer spots nor any new ones."

He said he would continue to receive regular doses of pembrolizumab, a new treatment that is part of a promising class of drugs that harness the body's immune system to fight cancer. The immunotherapy is manufactured by Merck & Co under the brand name Keytruda.

Carter, who said after his diagnosis last summer that his fate was "in the hands of God," has defied expectations before.

Critics derided his 1977-1981 presidency as a failure, although he played a key role in negotiation of the 1978 Camp David peace accord between Israel and Egypt. He lost his 1980 re-election bid to Republican Ronald Reagan.

But the former peanut farmer built one of the most successful post-White House legacies, winning a Nobel Peace Prize in 2002 and remaining active into his '90s in causes such as fighting disease in Africa and building homes for the poor.

He said in August that his cancer treatment, which has included radiation, would require him to cut back dramatically on his public schedule.

But has continued to teach Sunday School classes and participated in at least one Habitat for Humanity home-building event this autumn. In October, he announced he was also working with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s heirs to help mediate their dispute over whether to sell their father's 1964 Nobel Peace Prize medal and the Bible he carried during the civil rights movement.

Watch more coverage:

Former President Carter: 'They Didn't Find Any Cancer at All'

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