Once dubbed “the greatest drummer of his generation” due to his musical talents, Watts’ death was confirmed by his publicist on August 24 in a statement revealing that he died peacefully in a London hospital, surrounded by his family. Although the exact cause of the star’s death was never revealed, shortly before his death Watts was forced to pull out of the band’s US tour after undergoing emergency surgery. Again, the medical procedure was unspecified, but the rock star must have taken some time to fully recover. In the aftermath of the star’s death, there was an increase in research regarding the symptoms of throat cancer, which the star battled in 2004.
In a retrospective interview, Watts recalled the moments after his diagnosis that he shared: “It was mild, but [the doctor] said we should take it down. On the slide, there were tiny cancer cells on it.
“He said, ‘You have cancer of anything.’ And that night, I thought I was going to die. I thought that was what you did.
“You get cancer, waste away and die.”
After being diagnosed, the star underwent two surgeries, the second to remove the cancer-affected lymph nodes.
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He went on to say, “When they [take out the lymph nodes]muscles go,” he said in 2005, a year after beating cancer.
“Then you sit for eight weeks in treatment. You can’t raise your arm. It’s like being paralyzed. It was a worry, because of what I do for a living.
“We have a tour, and I didn’t know if I could finish a song. You can’t stop once you get there, if you’re a drummer… I didn’t know if I could do that… but it’s amazing how fast your body heals.
From feeling on the brink of death to going into remission a year after undergoing surgery and subsequent chemotherapy, throat cancer cannot be said to have been the cause of death. of Watts.
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However, for many people diagnosed with throat cancer, this is not the case. Cancer Research UK explains that there are several different parts of the throat that can become cancerous, so throat cancer is an umbrella term for cancer of the general area.
Throat cancers could be in one of two main areas that doctors call:
Pharynx – a passage that ensures that food and drink go in one direction (along the food pipe) and air goes in the other (up and down the trachea).
Head and neck – cancers that start in the head and neck area (for example, the tongue, nose, voice box or thyroid gland).
The leading UK-based charity explains that the symptoms of throat cancer are often similar to other, much less serious conditions, which sometimes makes it difficult to spot the cancer in its early stages.
For example, common symptoms of throat cancer include:
- ear pain
- A sore throat
- A lump in the neck
- Difficulty swallowing
- Change in your voice or speech
- Unexplained weight loss
- A cough
- Shortness of breath
- A sensation of something stuck in the throat.
As these symptoms are also linked to other more common illnesses such as throat infections or a cold, individuals are urged by the NHS to seek the advice of their GP if they notice any new signs and persistent symptoms.
Although it is unclear why throat cell mutations occur in the first place, certain lifestyle factors have been identified as increasing the risk of throat cancer in an individual.
These include in particular the following:
- Tobacco use, including smoking and chewing tobacco
- Excessive consumption of alcohol
- Viral infections, including human papillomavirus (HPV) and Epstein-Barr virus
- A diet low in fruits and vegetables
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- Exposure to toxic substances at work.
Many people are unaware that HPV can cause cancer or assume that it can only cause cervical cancer, but in reality it can cause a handful of cancers. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), recent studies have indicated that up to 60-70% of throat cancers may be HPV-related – or caused by a combination of HPV, alcohol and tobacco. .
Dr. Jessica Geiger, a medical oncologist at the Cleveland Clinic Cancer Center, has also commented on this “difficult disease” in the past.
She said: ‘There are no screening guidelines to screen for throat cancer. There are no standard tests to determine if you are harboring the virus.
Once diagnosed, throat cancer is usually treated with a combination of radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and targeted cancer drugs. If diagnosed early enough, radiation therapy or surgery can be used to remove all cancer cells and completely cure the disease.
For people whose cancer has spread to the lymph nodes, a procedure known as neck dissection is used. For larger tumors, surgery to remove entire parts of the throat may be needed. For example, it may be necessary to delete an individual’s entire mailbox. During this surgery, the trachea is then attached to a hole (stoma) in the throat to allow the person to breathe (tracheotomy).