Panama President Laurentino Cortiso said on Monday he had blood cancer, but the 69-year-old said he was feeling good and “healthy.”

In late May, Cortiso’s doctors detected “decreased hemoglobin and white blood cell counts” during routine tests, the president said in a television statement.

Experts recommended performing a bone marrow biopsy, and the sample was sent to a US laboratory where he was diagnosed with “medium-risk” myelodysplastic syndrome, a type of cancer that interferes with blood cell production.

Cortiso said he would be evaluated for the second time in Houston, USA in July to determine the extent of the disease.

“I want to say I’m feeling good, well, and continuing my normal work,” he added.

“The illness diagnosed by the president is a type of blood cancer,” Julio Sandval, a physician specializing in internal medicine and critical care, told AFP.

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

The disease “onset quietly and can be caused by a hereditary disorder that appears after age 60,” Sandoval said.

He added that life expectancy dependent on a particular type of cancer that Cortizo has could range from “6 months to 15 years.”

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