Veteran talk show host
He’s survived a heart attack, prostate cancer treatment, and a bypass surgery after being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. The next diagnosis on his list? Lung cancer.
In an interview with US Weekly, 83-year-old King revealed that he had been diagnosed with stage 1 lung cancer during a routine visit with his doctor.
“I go for my checkup and they say, ‘Let’s do a chest X-ray, and the doctor said to me, ‘Something looks funny,’” King explained. “They said the spot looked pretty small. I then did a CAT scan then a PET scan and then he said to me, ‘You have lung cancer, but it looks very small, in the beginning stages.’”
King used to smoke three packs of cigarettes a day. He quit after he suffered his heart attack, so he hasn't had a cigarette in nearly 30 years—but the damage had already been done to his body, his doctors confirmed.
Not exactly surprising, since smoking is the number one risk factor for lung cancer and linked to nearly 90 percent of lung cancers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. People who smoke cigarettes are 15 to 30 times more likely to get lung cancer than people who have never puffed a cig.
Luckily, King’s cancer was identified early and he was able to go back to work after the tumor was removed.
Lung cancer is by far the leading cause of cancer death in men—but only 16 percent are diagnosed at an early stage like King’s was, according to the American Lung Association. For many cases, the telltale symptoms of lung cancer—like a constant cough or coughing up blood, shortness of breath, and unexplained weight loss—don’t even appear until the cancer has already progressed to a more advanced stage, David Ross Camidge, M.D., Ph.D., professor of medical oncology and lung cancer researcher at the University of Colorado Cancer Center told us in June.
But even if you’ve never touched a cigarette, you shouldn’t underestimate your risk, since other factors, like secondhand smoke and radon, have both been linked to the deadly disease. Find out how to protect yourself here.
As for King? “I will probably die on the air,” he says. “I have beaten so many things health-wise to feel this good now. I have no plans to retire. I’ve never ever felt better than I do now.”