Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was diagnosed with leukemia less than 24 hours after being admitted to intensive care.
Fears increased for the 86-year-old’s health after his spokesperson confirmed that he had been forced to return to the San Raffaele Hospital in Milan yesterday, just days after he was discharged from the hospital.
The media billionaire, who is linked to Forza Italia’s 33-year-old Marta Fassina, was being treated in intensive care at the hospital’s cardiac unit after suffering breathing problems.
Sources close to the leader of the right-wing Forza Italia party have confirmed that Berlusconi, who has suffered frequent bouts of the disease in recent years, has leukemia – a blood cancer that leads to an overproduction of abnormal white blood cells.
“This morning I spoke with Professor Zangrillo (Berlusconi’s personal physician) and he told me that Berlusconi had a quiet night and his condition is stable,” Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Antonio Tajani told state TV RAI.
Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi (pictured) was diagnosed with leukemia less than 24 hours after entering intensive care.
Berlusconi, 86, is in a relationship with Forza Italia deputy Marta Fassina, 33 (pictured together in September)
Berlusconi’s son, Luigi, 34, and daughter, Marina, 56, were photographed as they arrived at a Milan hospital to visit their ailing father.
Tajani, a longtime ally of Berlusconi within Forza Italia, noted that Berlusconi has survived a series of health problems.
“We all want to be optimistic and hope that Assad will come back soon to take charge of the party. He is our political leader and of course he never gave up,” Tajani told the broadcaster.
The party then issued a statement saying that in the morning Berlusconi had spoken to top allies of Forza Italia and urged “maximum commitment” in parliament. “The country needs us,” he was quoted as saying.
His son Luigi, 34, was pictured arriving at a Milan hospital to visit his ailing father. While soon after, his daughter, Marina, 56, was seen visiting.
Berlusconi has previously beaten prostate cancer, which he described as a “month-long nightmare”.
However, it was his battle with Covid in 2020 that he described as the ‘most serious challenge’ of his life.
Italy’s three-time prime minister, who has been embroiled in numerous scandals – most notably over his infamous ‘bunga bunga’ parties – was hospitalized with a minor heart problem after fainting in 2006, and underwent heart surgery at a US hospital in January 2007.
The former AC Milan owner, who also underwent heart surgery in 2016 to replace the aortic valve, had been on a pacemaker for several years.
He was hospitalized again for a reported UTI in January 2022.
Berlusconi was admitted to intensive care at the San Raffaele Hospital in Milan (pictured) yesterday, days after he was released from the same hospital.
Berlusconi (pictured in 1980) has suffered frequent bouts of illness in recent years after contracting Covid in 2020.
When Berlusconi’s younger brother Paolo left the hospital last night, he told reporters: “He’s a rock, so he’ll succeed this time too.”
After being discharged from hospital due to an earlier illness on 30 March, Berlusconi appeared to be back to health, as he He thanked “everyone who wanted to send an idea or sentimental sign these days” on social media.
He said he was already back at work “ready and determined to commit as I always have to the country I love”.
Berlusconi, who won a seat in the Italian Senate during a general election in September, has stirred controversy in recent months with his criticism of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, which has put him at odds with Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni.
The billionaire, whose Forza Italia party is part of the ruling government coalition, was accused – but acquitted this year – of paying young stars and others for ‘silence and lies’ about his hedonistic soirees, which he has long insisted are elegant dinner parties.
Berlusconi won a seat in the Italian Senate during the September general election after years of scandals
The ruling is the culmination of a legal battle that began in 2010 when Berlusconi – then prime minister – was accused of abusing his power to protect a young Moroccan nightclub dancer, Karima El Mahroug.
Berlusconi, who has five children, was temporarily banned from holding political office after being found guilty of tax fraud in 2013, for which he served a community sentence.
Then he returned to the political front lines and was re-elected as a senator last year.
The media mogul, who first entered politics in 1994, currently has no role in government.
What is leukemia?
Leukemia is cancer that begins in the blood-forming tissues, usually the bone marrow.
It leads to an overproduction of abnormal white blood cells that fight infection.
But having more white blood cells means there is “less room” for other cells, including red blood cells — which transport oxygen around the body — and platelets — which cause blood to clot when skin is cut.
There are many different types of leukemia, which are defined according to which immune cells affect them and how the disease progresses.
Cancer Research UK statistics revealed that for all types combined, 9,900 people in the UK were diagnosed with leukemia in 2015.
And in the United States, about 60,300 people were told they had the disease last year, according to the National Cancer Institute.
Most cases have no clear cause, as the cancer is not contagious or hereditary.
Leukemia in general becomes more common with age – with the exception of acute lymphoblastic leukemia, which peaks in children.
Other risk factors include being male, exposure to certain chemicals or radiation, and certain bone marrow disorders.
Symptoms are generally vague and get worse over time.
They can include:
- frequent infection
- Heavy periods, nosebleeds or bleeding gums
- shortness of breath
Acute leukemia, which progresses rapidly and aggressively, is often curable with chemotherapy, radiotherapy, or a stem cell transplant.
Chronic forms of the disease — which usually progress slowly — tend to be incurable, however, and these patients can often live with the disease.
source: Leukemia care