Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has been suffering from chronic blood cancer for some time and is currently in intensive care for a lung infection, his doctors said on Thursday.
The 86-year-old, whose media empire has made him a billionaire, was rushed to the intensive care unit of Milan’s San Raffaele hospital on Wednesday, heightening concerns over his increasingly fragile health.
In their first statement on his condition, doctors Alberto Zangrillo and Fabio Ciceri revealed that Berlusconi had been diagnosed in the past with Chronic Myelomonocytic Leukaemia (CML). They did not specify when the cancer was first spotted, saying only that it was not acute.
“Silvio Berlusconi is currently in intensive care for the treatment of a lung infection,” they said, adding that the illness was related to the cancer.
CML affects white blood cells and in most cases cannot be cured, doctors say. Around 70% of men will live for at least five years after their diagnosis while younger adults tend to have a better outlook, according to advice provided to patients by Britain’s National Health Service.
Three of Berlusconi’s five children, daughter Marina and sons Luigi and Pier Silvio, were seen arriving at the hospital on Thursday. His close friend and business partner Fedele Confalonieri also visited.
“We’re more optimistic, today (he looks) much better than yesterday,” Confalonieri told reporters.
Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party is part of Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s right-wing coalition, though the former prime minister does not have a role in government.