WASHINGTON - Elizabeth Edwards is gravely ill and doctors have told her she has only weeks to live, according to a family friend who is among those who have gathered with her at her North Carolina home.

The family issued a statement yesterday saying that doctors have told her that further treatment for her cancer would be unproductive, and the family friend further described Edwards' condition to the Associated Press.

The friend said that Edwards was briefly hospitalized last week and received treatment.

Edwards' estranged husband, former presidential candidate John Edwards, and their three children were at her side at the Chapel Hill home, the friend reported.

Her sister, brother, nieces, nephews, former campaign advisers and other friends were also there.

The friend said that Edwards is not in pain and in good spirits.

Edwards, 61, separated from her husband after he admitted to an extramarital affair and fathering a child with a campaign videographer.

Edwards has battled breast cancer since 2004.

She was diagnosed in the final days of the campaign when her husband was the Democratic vice presidential nominee.