ATLANTA (CBS46) -- Georgia Congressman John Lewis will undergo treatment for stage IV pancreatic cancer, his office said Sunday.

Congressman Lewis released a statement about the diagnosis which was discovered during what he said was a "routine medical visit."

"While I am clear-eyed about the prognosis, doctors have told me that recent medical advances have made this type of cancer treatable in many cases, that treatment options are no longer as debilitating as they once were, and that I have a fighting chance," Lewis wrote.

Congressman John Lewis

UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 14: Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., stands on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., in between television interviews on Feb. 14, 2015. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Lewis said that he plans to return to Washington in the coming days to "continue our work and begin my treatment plan, which will occur over the next several weeks." He indicated he may miss a few votes, "but with God's grace I will be back on the front lines soon."

Congressman Lewis has represented Georgia's 5th Congressional District since 1986 and has been a national icon of civil rights since the 1960's. 

Former President Barack Obama, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and others tweeted out their prayers for Lewis.

Congressman Lewis helped spearhead the civil rights movement in the 1960's including leading the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).

Perhaps Lewis' defining moment in his fight for civil rights came in 1965. He, along with Hosea Williams, led over 600 peaceful, orderly protesters across the Edmund Pettis Bridge in Selma, Alabama on March 7, 1965. The group planned to march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama to push for voting rights in the state.

The peaceful protesters led by Lewis were met by more than 100 Alabama state troopers who gave them two minutes to disperse. Just over a minute later, the state troopers armed with clubs, bullwhips, and tear gas, unleashed a brutal beating on the protesters. Lewis was left bloodied and suffered a fractured skull, but still recounted the events at a federal hearing less than one week later.

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According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, stage IV pancreatic cancer has a five-year survival rate of one percent. "The average patient diagnosed with late-stage pancreatic cancer will live about one year after diagnosis," according to Johns Hopkins' website.

Pancreatic cancer has been in the news lately as "Jeopardy!" host Alex Trebek has battled the disease. Supreme Court associate justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has also fought the disease in the last decade.

The aggressive cancer hits millions and was the cause of death for celebrities including: Steve Jobs, Aretha Franklin, Patrick Swayze, Luciano Pavarotti, Alan Rickman, Sally Ride, Michael Landon, and Joan Crawford.

Resources on Pancreatic Cancer:

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