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Tom Smart, Deseret News
Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints speaks during the afternoon session of the 184th Annual General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Sunday, April 6, 2014, in Salt Lake City.

SALT LAKE CITY — Cancer is spreading aggressively through the body of Elder L. Tom Perry, 92, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The cancer is terminal, a church news release said.

“Elder Perry has asked that we share his thanks for the prayers and kindness extended to him by church members and friends," church spokesman Eric Hawkins said Friday morning. "Despite earlier treatments, cancer has spread aggressively to his lungs and beyond. Elder Perry is at home. He will no longer attend meetings, though he is still receiving visits from members of the Quorum of the Twelve, the First Presidency and close family. He will begin receiving hospice care in the coming days.”

At 92, Elder Perry is the faith's oldest living apostle, having served in the Twelve for 41 years. That makes him the second most-senior member of the quorum, after President Boyd K. Packer, because seniority is based on time in the quorum.

Elder Perry went to the hospital April 22 with breathing difficulties but was released the same day after tests. Two days later, the church announced he had been diagnosed with cancer in his thyroid gland. He began radiation treatment April 24. Difficulty breathing is one symptom of thyroid cancer, according to WebMD.com.

By May 8, Elder Perry had resumed his church responsibilities and returned to meetings of the Twelve, but new tests revealed the cancer had spread.

Until his breathing difficulties, Elder Perry had been active in church leadership.

Elder Perry traveled to Rome in November for the Vatican interfaith summit on marriage, joined a press conference in March where Utah lawmakers unveiled legislation balancing religious freedom and protections for LGBT people and spoke at the church's general conference earlier this month.

Email: twalch@deseretnews.com