What is myelodysplastic syndrome? Panama's president diagnosed with rare blood disorder

Panama City, Panama Updated: Jun 21, 2022, 11:27 PM(IST)

File photo of Laurentino Cortizo. Photograph:( Reuters )

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Myelodysplastic syndrome is considered a type of cancer affecting the body's ability to make healthy blood cells in the bone marrow 

Laurentino Cortizo, the President of Panama on Monday (June 20) revealed that he has been diagnosed with a rare blood disorder known as myelodysplastic syndrome. Cortizo also said that he would be seeking a second medical opinion and the 69-year-old said he feels well and is in "good spirits." 

In a televised statement, the president said that in late May, his doctors detected "a decrease in haemoglobin and white blood cell count" during routine testing. 

After that, a bone marrow biopsy was performed and samples were sent to a US laboratory on the recommendation of specialists. He was then diagnosed with "intermediate risk" myelodysplastic syndrome. 

Cortizo did not reveal if he would receive treatment. He said that 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," Cortizo said. 

What is myelodysplastic syndrome? 

According to the American Cancer Society, myelodysplastic syndrome is considered a type of cancer affecting the body's ability to make healthy blood cells in the bone marrow. The disorder basically hinders the production of blood cells.  

As per the UK-based National Health Service, Reports have noted that the treatments for myelodysplastic syndrome can range from blood transfusions to chemotherapy or stem cell transplants. 

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

Citing Sandoval, the news agency further reported that this type of cancer makes the patient feel tired and weak, and leads to weight loss. Sandoval said that the disease can be caused "by a genetic disorder that develops silently and appears after the age of 60."  

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