Empress Emerita Michiko will undergo surgery for breast cancer on Sunday, the Imperial Household Agency announced Tuesday.

The former empress has been diagnosed with stage 1 breast cancer, with no clear signs of cancer metastasis, according to the agency.

Empress Emerita Michiko will stay at the University of Tokyo Hospital from Saturday, and undergo the surgery the following morning. It is expected to take around four hours.

In the surgery, cancerous tissue will be removed from the empress emerita under general anesthesia. Doctors believe they can conserve her breast.

The operation will be jointly conducted by doctors from the Shizuoka Cancer Center and the university hospital.

Empress Emerita Michiko and her husband, Emperor Emeritus Akihito, were informed of the surgery plan on Tuesday morning. She thanked the doctors for detecting the cancer at an early stage, agency officials said.

She was found to have a mass on her left breast after a regular health check on July 12. It was confirmed to be cancer through tissue examination at the hospital of the Imperial Household Agency on Aug. 2.

She lost a lot of weight earlier this year in the lead-up to her husband’s abdication on April 30.

The couple stayed at summer retreats in the town of Karuizawa, Nagano Prefecture, and the town of Kusatsu, Gunma Prefecture, in late August.

The empress emerita received presurgery checkups at the University of Tokyo Hospital on Sunday.

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