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President of Panama announces blood cancer diagnosis

The President of Panama Laurentino Cortizo said on Monday that he has blood cancer, although the 69-year-old said he feels well and is in “good spirits.”

In late May, Cortizo’s doctors detected “a decrease in hemoglobin and white blood cell count” during routine testing, the president said in a televised statement.

Specialists recommended that a bone marrow biopsy be performed, and samples were sent to a US laboratory, and he was diagnosed with “intermediate risk” myelodysplastic syndrome, a type of cancer that hinders the production of blood cells.

Cortizo said he will undergo a second evaluation in the US city of Houston in July to find out the extent of the disease.

“I want to say that I feel well, I’m in good spirits and that I will continue with my regular work,” he added.

“The disease diagnosed to the president is a type of blood cancer,” Julio Sandoval, a doctor specializing in internal medicine and critical care, told AFP.

According to Sandoval, this type of cancer causes a decrease in hemoglobin, and abnormal levels of platelets and white blood cells, making the patient feel tired and weak, and leading to weight loss.

The disease can be caused “by a genetic disorder that develops silently and appears after the age of 60,” Sandoval said.

Life expectancy, which will depend on the specific type of cancer Cortizo has, can range “from six months to 15 years,” he added.

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