Iron Maiden's Bruce Dickinson Discusses Cancer Fight, 747 Private Plane & More
“No, I never smoked," Dickinson said. "It’s a virus. HPV -- Human papillomavirus. They all are. I’m almost willing to bet anytime you hear of someone getting tonsil cancer, throat cancer, lymph cancer whatever it is, if they’re not heavy smokers and not massive heavy drinkers, it’s a 500% increase in this type of cancer in men over 40.”
Dickinson, a qualified commercial pilot, urged other men to stay vigilant. He continued, “It’s the same virus that causes cervical cancer, the diagnosis is the same, it’s the same words they use. The issue is in guys typically it only presents as a lump in the size of your neck. It’s probably already beavering away inside your tongue and you don’t even know. The secondary one that pops up is the one next door, your lymph nodes.”
The artist self-diagnosed his cancer but waiting six weeks, until the end of the album recording sessions, before he got it checked out. He was found to have two tumors: a "golf-ball" sized lump on his tongue and one the size of a “large strawberry” in his lymph node.
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Michael Douglas was widely mocked when he used the same reasoning for his own battles with throat cancer in 2013 (the actor later changed his story to tongue cancer, and his reps tried to distance their client from his own comments).
“And everybody makes the jokes about Michael Douglas, ’cause he was having oral sex,” Dickinson told Trunk, “and it’s just, like, OK, we need to get over that one, guys, because this is kind of serious. There’s hundreds of thousands of people at risk for this. And guys should know if you get a lump here and you’re over 40 don’t just assume antibiotics will get rid of it out. Probably go and get it checked out.”
Dickson also assuaged any concerns about his singing voice and whether he’d be fit to hit the road. "Things are still healing up, the swelling is still going down. I had a pretty good cookery lesson with radiation for three weeks," he explained. But with a tour expected to kick off early in 2016, Dickinson assured: “wild horses cannot stop me from going on tour."