Although anyone can get cancer, there are certain risk factors that increase one’s chances of getting head and neck cancer. According to the NIH, head and neck cancers do not receive much attention in the media. However, looking at famous people who have had these cancers can make ordinary people more aware of their risks of getting the disease. We look at seven celebrities who contracted head or neck cancer.
Michael Douglas presented with a chronic sore throat. He was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma at the base of his tongue. A possible cause was human papillomavirus (HPV), which is a sexually transmitted disease (STD). After going into remission, he joined forces with the Oral Cancer Foundation to raise public awareness of the disease.
Sammy Davis Junior
Sammy Davis Jr. lost his sense of taste, and his throat was ticklish all the time due to throat cancer. Despite numerous treatments and the surgical removal of his larynx, he succumbed to the cancer. He died of complications. Possible complications that affected him were dysphagia, hardened skin in the neck area, deformities of the face or neck, an obstructed airway, voice loss, and metastasis.
Dysphagia occurs when a person has difficulty swallowing. They may need assistance with a thickener such as SimplyThick gel to manage liquids. Metastasis is when cancer spreads from its original site to the lymph glands and other parts of the body.
George Harrison, the lead guitarist for The Beatles, was diagnosed with throat cancer in 1997. Despite radiation and surgery, he was subsequently found to have lung cancer and a brain tumor as well, meaning that the cancer had metastasized. Harrison passed away in 2001.
Eddie van Halen
Rock guitarist Eddie Van Halen was diagnosed with cancer in 2000 after finding a callus on his tongue. Part of his tongue had to be removed. Van Halen seemed fine after that until ten years later when the cancer was found on his tongue again and had spread to his throat, necessitating further excisions of tongue tissue. Twenty years after his original cancer diagnosis, Eddie Van Halen passed away after a stroke.
Larry Hagman is best known for his portrayal of J.R. Ewing on the television series Dallas. Having faced a severe medical crisis in earlier years that resulted in a liver transplant, Hagman was not overly disturbed when he was diagnosed with throat cancer. Nevertheless, he died the following year.
Freud received a diagnosis of squamous cell carcinoma of the palate. He became aware of it after developing a malignant growth in his mouth. This later spread to his cheek and eye socket, causing immense pain. His death was due to a lethal dose of morphine from his compassionate doctor Max Schur.
Grover Cleveland was a US president twice (22nd and 24th). He was treated for an ulcer on the roof of his mouth and had a cancerous lump removed. The malignancy was verrucous carcinoma.
If you have a high-risk profile for getting head or throat cancer, now is the time to make the lifestyle changes that will reduce your chances of contracting one of these disease conditions.
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