Eric Idol, 79, reveals he survived ‘deadly’ pancreatic cancer after rare early diagnosis


‘Monty Python’ star Eric Idle, 79, reveals ‘deadly’ pancreatic cancer survivor after rare early diagnosis: ‘I was incredibly lucky’

  • Comedian feels ‘very happy’ disease, which has the highest death rate of all major cancers, was caught early
  • The actor and comedian admitted that his secret battle with the disease motivated him to star in The Masked Singer, which “changed [his] life’
  • Pancreatic cancer is one of the deadliest forms of the disease, and about 95 percent of people who get it die from it.
  • It is the sixth most common cause of cancer death in the UK – around 10,000 people are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer each year in the UK
  • Pancreatic cancer usually shows no symptoms in the early stages, when it would be more manageable

Monty Python star Eric Idle, 79, has revealed he survived ‘deadly’ pancreatic cancer after a rare early diagnosis three years ago.

The comedian feels “very fortunate” to have had the disease, which has the highest death rate of all major cancers, detected at an early stage and, after undergoing surgery, he is now in good health.

He said in an interview for TIME: “About three years ago, I was incredibly lucky: I was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

Monty Python star Eric Idle, 79, revealed he survived 'deadly' pancreatic cancer after a rare early diagnosis three years ago (pictured in 2019)

Monty Python star Eric Idle, 79, revealed he survived ‘deadly’ pancreatic cancer after a rare early diagnosis three years ago (pictured in 2019)

“One of the deadliest forms of cancer, what luck on earth? Well because it was found incredibly early… before it had gone anywhere.

The actor and comedian admitted his secret battle with the disease motivated him to take part in The Masked Singer and despite being unmasked as The Hedgehog in Tuesday’s premiere episode, the program has changed [his] life’.

He said Entertainment tonight: “The whole thing was very Zen. I really liked it. It changed my life to be honest. I had pancreatic cancer and was very lucky and lucky to survive.

“It was caught early, I had major surgery at Cedars and they saved my life and I hadn’t told anyone.”

Grateful: Comedian feels 'very lucky' to have had the disease, which has the highest death rate of all major cancers (pictured in 1975's Monty Python and the Holy Grail)

Grateful: Comedian feels ‘very lucky’ to have had the disease, which has the highest death rate of all major cancers (pictured in 1975’s Monty Python and the Holy Grail)

After his surgery, the comic “worked up the courage to ask [his] doctor how long [he] there was’ and was stunned by the response.

He recalled: “He said, ‘Oh, at least 10 years. You are very healthy, you are healthy, the cancer is gone’. And I hadn’t counted on it much.

“So I thought, ‘Here’s my chance to do something good.’ Now I have to go out with my cancer [battle]to tell people that I am a survivor and to share this experience.

Pancreatic cancer is one of the deadliest forms of the disease, and about 95 percent of people who contract it die from it.

Joan Crawford, Patrick Swayze and Luciano Pavarotti died of pancreatic cancer.

It is the sixth most common cause of cancer death in the UK – around 10,000 people are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer each year in the UK, along with around 55,000 in the US.

It is caused by abnormal and uncontrolled growth of cells in the pancreas, a large gland in the digestive system.

Pancreatic cancer usually shows no symptoms in the early stages, when it would be more manageable.

Sufferers tend to start developing the telltale signs — jaundice and abdominal pain — around stage 3 or 4, when it has likely already spread to other organs.

Eric teamed up with Stand Up to Cancer to create the Bright Side Fund, which was inspired by his experience on the reality show.

He said: “We’re going to raise money specifically for research and early testing to help other people survive this thing.

“And that was a bit of an epiphany for me and it was all because of the experience with The Masked Singer and I’m very grateful to them for that.”

Writing on his Twitter, linked to Face Cancerhe said: “I did The Masked Singer because I wanted to see if I could still do it after surviving pancreatic cancer.

“My life was saved by early screening and surgery. Now I’m starting the Bright Side Fund to raise money to help save others.’

WHAT IS PANCREATIC CANCER?

Pancreatic cancer is one of the deadliest forms of the disease, and about 95 percent of people who contract it die from it.

Joan Crawford, Patrick Swayze and Luciano Pavarotti died of pancreatic cancer.

It is the sixth most common cause of cancer death in the UK – around 10,000 people are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer each year in the UK, along with around 55,000 in the US.

WHAT IS THE REASON?

It is caused by abnormal and uncontrolled growth of cells in the pancreas, a large gland in the digestive system.

WHO IS AT GREATEST RISK?

Most cases (90%) are in people over the age of 55.

About half of all new cases occur in people aged 75 or older.

One in 10 cases is due to genetics.

Other possible causes include age, smoking, and other health conditions, including diabetes.

WHY IS IT SO DEADLY?

There is no screening method for pancreatic cancer.

Pancreatic cancer usually shows no symptoms in the early stages, when it would be more manageable.

Sufferers tend to start developing the telltale signs — jaundice and abdominal pain — around stage 3 or 4, when it has likely already spread to other organs.

WHAT ARE THE TREATMENT OPTIONS?

The only effective treatment is removal of the pancreas.

This has proved largely ineffective for those whose cancer has spread to other organs.

In these cases, palliative care is recommended for end-of-life pain relief.

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