Dr. Salvador Navarrete, who used to be President Hugo Chavez’s personal physician has left Venezuela after telling a Mexican weekly journal that Chavez would likely die within the next two years. Medical personnel reported that police came to visit his consultancy in his absence and searched through manual and computer files.

Dr. Navarrete had said to the Mexican newspaper Milenio Semanal when asked about the type of cancer Chavez might have, given that he has kept quiet about it:

“I offer you the information I have based on what you have asked me. President Chavez has a tumor in the pelvis, called sarcoma*. These are retroperitoneal** tumors, at the base of the pelvis. From an embryological point of view (how it started, its origin), it could be mesodermal, ectodermal or endodermal. Information I have received from the family is that it is a sarcoma, an aggressive tumor with a very bad prognosis – and I am nearly completely certain this is true. That is why he is undergoing such aggressive chemotherapy. If it were some kind of prostate cancer, he would be undergoing hormonal therapy which would hardly be noticeable.

* The Retroperitoneal space (retroperitoneum) is the space in the abdominal cavity behind (retro) the peritoneum. Organs in this space include the adrenal glands, kidneys, ureter, bladder, aorta, and some others.

** A sarcoma is one of a group of tumors that usually arises from connective tissue. A cancer that develops from transformed cells in one of a number of tissues that develop from embryonic mesoderm. Examples include tumors of bone, cartilage, fat, muscle, vascular, and hematopoietic (pertaining to the formation of blood) tissues.

When the Milenio interviewer asked the doctor whether he was ruling out prostate cancer, Navarrete answered:

“No, it is not a prostate tumor. It is a tumor that is very close to the prostate and is probably invading the bladder. Or it is a tumor that originates in the bladder and is invading the pelvis. Whatever it is, it is definitely a tumor that started off in the lower pelvic regions, between the hip bones.

It is most likely a tumor on the Iliopsoas muscle (a blending of the liacus and psoas major muscle; runs from the lumbar portion of the vertebral column to the femur). The muscle allows us to lift our knee when we are sitting. The cancer either started in the muscle or has settled there. I believe this, because before he had a tumor ‘the size of a baseball’ removed from the area, he had been complaining of knee pain. This is referred pain.

This is why most doctors and people close to him believe it is this kind of cancer. I am a surgeon who is well known to his family, I have been their family doctor. Most of us, including doctors who have treated him, believe he has this type of cancer.”

The whole interview (in Spanish) can be read here.

Chavez has just returned to Venezuela after a “rigorous” check up in Cuba and says he is now completely cancer free. Any doctor with the minimum of training knows that it is impossible to declare a patient cancer free during the first two years after the removal of a malignant tumor. Chavez’s tumor was removed four months ago. This is not the first time he says he has been declared cancer free.

Chavez has called Dr. Navarette a man of “morbid motives” obsessed with “necrophilia”.

In an open letter to Venezuelan media, Dr. Navarrete said he wanted to have a public discussion about Chavez’s health, but felt he had no choice but to leave the country, given the security reaction and the uproar his comments to the Mexican journal have triggered.

Navarrete wrote:

“Events forced me to leave the country suddenly, something I had not wanted or planned to do. . . . . I’m worried that the president and those that live and work with him do not know the full magnitude of his illness given that it has been shrouded in complete secrecy. The consequences of a fatal outcome, and the importance of informing both those who support him and those who oppose him, were the reasons that led me to talk about this controversial subject “

Written by Christian Nordqvist