Grammy-nominated soul and gospel singer Candi Staton has been diagnosed with breast cancer.

The 78-year-old, whose hits include "Young Hearts Run Free" and "You Got The Love", said she received the news over the summer on the first day of rehearsal for her tour.

Staton says she found a lump through self-check and she's encouraging women, "including elderly women – to get a regular mammogram."

She said in a statement: "I decided to keep it to myself and do some soul searching.

"I went through all of the emotions – denial, poor me and anger."

The singer, originally from Alabama, will begin 12 weeks of chemotherapy on Tuesday.

Staton, who released her 30th studio album "Unstoppable" in 2018, added that being on the road had helped her.

The singer launched her solo career in 1970.

She became known as the "First Lady of Southern Soul" for her Grammy-nominated renditions of Tammy Wynette's "Stand By Your Man" and Elvis Presley's "In The Ghetto".

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