Silvio Berlusconi, 86, 'responding well' to leukaemia treatment

Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, 86, ‘responding well’ to treatment after leukaemia and a lung infection diagnosis sees him rushed to intensive care

  • Former Prime Minister was admitted to the San Raffaele Hospital on Wednesday 
  • Berlusconi also has a history of heart problems and suffered pneumonia in 2020

A doctor has said former Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi is responding well to treatment at a Milan hospital, according to reports. 

Alberto Zangrillo, who heads the ICU at San Raffaele hospital, said Mr Berlusconi ‘is used to responding with his best’ and that despite the ‘grave illness in a truly difficult situation, he’s responding well to the treatments’, the ANSA news agency reported.

Dr Zangrillo revealed earlier in the week that Mr Berlusconi, 86, has had a chronic form of leukaemia for some time. 

He was rushed into hospital on Wednesday and diagnosed with leukaemia and a lung infection within 24 hours. 

On Saturday Mr Berlusconi was visited by a long-time adviser, Gianni Letta, who said: ‘I found him better than what I thought.’ Mr Berlusconi is apparently eager to rebound, Mr Letta said.

‘You know how every time he sets an aim, he reaches it,’ he told told reporters outside the hospital.

A flag of AC Monza is seen outside San Raffaele hospital as former Italian Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi, is hospitalised at San Raffaele hospital in Milan, on 8 April 2023

Then-Prime Minister Berlusconi attends the Italy-France Summit in Rome on 26 April 2011

In remarks to reporters, Dr Zangrillo referred to the infection as a ‘complication,’ given Mr Berlusconi’s chronic leukaemia.

READ MORE: Ex-Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, 86, is in intensive care after suffering heart problems


He was diagnosed with chronic myelomonocytic leukaemia (CMML).

Earlier in the week, Mr Berlusconi’s doctors said they were treating his lung infection and giving him medicine to ‘restore pre-existing clinical conditions’ given the leukaemia. 

The three-time prime minister of Italy previously overcame prostate cancer, which he described as ‘a nightmare lasting months’. 

Mr Berlusconi also has a history of heart problems, and in 2020, he was taken to hospital with Covid-19 and pneumonia. 

It was his battle with Covid which he described as the ‘most dangerous challenge’ of his life.

Despite serving as Prime Minister until 2011, he has been affected by health problems for a number of years.

Berlusconi was admitted to hospital with a minor heart problem after fainting in 2006, and underwent heart surgery in a US hospital in January 2007.

The Italian media mogul and politician was the Prime Minister of Italy on three separate occasions, from 1994 to 1995, 2001 to 2006, and 2008 to 2011. 

He was also the leader of the Forza Italia party, which he founded in 1994. 

Party ally and deputy Prime Minister Antonio Tajani told RAI state television on Thursday: ‘We all want to be optimistic and we hope that the lion will return soon to take charge of the party. 

‘He’s our political leader and of course he never gives up.’

Press gather outside the San Raffaele Hospital in Milan where Berlusconi is currently staying

Berlusconi’s son, Luigi, 34, and daughter Marina, 56, were pictured arriving at the Milan hospital to visit their sick father

Chronic myelomonocytic leukaemia (CMML) is a rare type of blood cancer, where there are too many monocytes in the blood and bone marrow.

Monocytes are a type of white blood cell.

In CMML the bone marrow produces abnormal monocytes. They are not fully developed and can’t work normally.

These abnormal blood cells either stay in the bone marrow or are destroyed before they get into the bloodstream. 

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has included CMML in a group of blood cancers called myeloproliferative and myelodysplastic disorders. 

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