NEW YORK, April 5, 2005 -- -- ABC News "World News Tonight" anchor Peter Jennings has been diagnosed with lung cancer, and will begin outpatient treatment next week.
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 substituting for Jennings as necessary.
"He's already bringing to this new challenge the courage and strength we've seen so often in his reporting from the field and in anchoring ABC News," Westin wrote.
Jennings told "World News Tonight" senior staffers about his illness today.
"Almost 10 million Americans are living with cancer," Jennings wrote. "I am sure I will learn from them how to cope with the facts of life that none of us anticipated."
Appearing on World News Tonight, Jennings told viewers he had been a smoker until about 20 years ago, but had slipped and smoked after the 9/11 terror attacks in 2001.
He thanked viewers for an outpouring of support, and said he had been surprised at how quickly people learned of his illness and reached out to offer their support.
"I hope it goes without saying that a journalist who doesn't value deeply the audience's loyalty should be in another line of work," he said.
Jennings was named anchor and senior editor of "World News Tonight" in 1983. He has been working for ABC News since 1964.
In his more than 40 years with ABC News, Jennings has been honored with many awards for news reporting including 14 national Emmys, two Peabody Awards, several Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards and several Overseas Press Club Awards.