Forza Italia leader Silvio Berlusconi gestures during a political meeting in Fiuggi, Italy, in September 2017.
Rome CNN  — 

Silvio Berlusconi, the former Italian prime minister and leader of the Forza Italia party, has been diagnosed with leukemia, it was confirmed on Thursday.

The San Raffaele Hospital in Milan said in a statement that the 86-year-old politician’s cancer is not acute, adding that he had carried the disease “for some time.”

Berlusconi was hospitalized on Wednesday with breathing problems, following a previous spell in hospital last week.

“President Silvio Berlusconi is currently hospitalized in intensive care for the treatment of a lung infection,” the hospital said in a statement, adding that doctors had now also reached the leukemia diagnosis.

It added there is a “therapeutic strategy in place” for Berlusconi’s treatment.

The controversial media tycoon has served three stints as Italy’s prime minister, most recently between 2008 and 2011, before being banned from politics for six years following a conviction for tax fraud.

Berlusconi returned to frontline politics in 2022 when he won a seat in Italy’s Senate, representing the northern municipality of Monza.

He was separately hospitalized last week for “routine checks,” his spokesman told CNN without providing further details.

In 2021 he was hospitalized for treatment for the symptoms of long Covid-19, according to the press office of his Forza Italia party. He also spent time in the hospital the previous year after contracting the coronavirus, and has had a number of other health concerns, including a 2016 heart surgery to replace an aortic valve.