Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said he has prostate cancer and will be operated on Wednesday, two weeks before the beginning of peace talks with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC.
The 61-year-old Santos said in an address broadcast Monday on radio and television that the cancer was detected by means of a biopsy and that, following doctors’ recommendations, he will undergo surgery “to remove the tumor.”
It will be “rather uncomfortable” for several days, but he will remain conscious throughout the procedure, Santos said.
The operation, recommended by his doctor in Bogota, Felipe Gomez, and three specialists in the United States, will not require general anesthesia, the president said.
The surgery will be performed at Bogota’s Santa Fe Foundation “with local anesthesia that will allow me to remain conscious before, during and after the procedure,” Santos said.
Dr. Gomez had advised him “to check with other doctors, other specialists, both the findings of the biopsy and his recommendation to have surgery,” which is what he did last week when he traveled to the United States to take part in the United Nations General Assembly, Santos said.
“In New York I had the opportunity to have an ultrasound, and three specialists in the field - a urologist and two oncologists - studied the result of the ultrasound and of other tests and all confirmed the recommendations of Dr. Felipe Gomez,” the president said.
Santos said that despite certain “physical limitations,” he will continue to exercise his functions as president “at all times.”
The president said he has “a family history of cancer,” a reference to his brother Luis Fernando, who was operated for the same problem and “is in perfect health today.”
The president hopes to be completely recovered for the beginning of peace talks with the FARC, set to begin on Oct. 15, according to an announcement made Monday in Havana by the guerrilla group.
The FARC and the Santos administration reached an agreement on Aug. 26 in Havana to start the peace process after six months of secret negotiations in the Cuban capital.
The two parties will meet in Oslo to kick off their third peace negotiations in almost 50 years of armed conflict, with Cuba and Norway as mediators and with Chile and Venezuela as observers.