05/07/2012 02:29 pm ET

Chen Guangcheng Cancer: U.S. Officials Suspected Chinese Activist Had Colon Cancer

Foreign Policy reports that when Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng arrived at the U.S. Embassy last week, officials suspected that he may have had cancer, forcing the Americans to transfer Chen to a hospital quickly.

Chen Guangcheng is known to suffer from chronic gastroenteritis, which he developed during his months in Chinese jail. Yet after his escape an American doctor noted that Chen "was found to be bleeding profusely from his rectum" and suspected he could have advanced colon cancer.

Chen, a Chinese activist and blind, self-taught lawyer, made an improbable escape from house arrest in eastern China last month. Reuters writes that by the time he was picked up after friends had learned of his escape, Chen had "scaled walls and made his way through fields and farmland without water or food for 17 hours [...] In between, he had slept in pig pens and fields."

Chen is currently awaiting permission from the Chinese government to travel to the United States. On Saturday, his wife and children joined him in the Beijing hospital where he is receiving medical care.