Keeping details about his health private at the time, Wood, 74, spoke exclusively to The Sun in April last year about his secret battle with a rare and aggressive small-cell cancer. This follows a previous battle back in 2017 when the bass guitarist was diagnosed with lung cancer. “I’ve had cancer two different ways now,” Wood confessed in 2021, reflecting on both of his health ordeals.
“I had lung cancer in 2017 and I had small-cell more recently that I fought in the last lockdown,” the star continued to explain.
Notoriously having had a turbulent heath history, due to his involvement with drugs and alcohol, Wood has had eight stints in rehab, where he learnt the concept of a “higher power”.
A core belief of both Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, Wood has used his belief in a higher power to motivate him to get through his second brush with cancer.
The musician added: “I’m going through a lot of problems now, but throughout my recovery, you have to let it go. And when you hand the outcome over to your higher power, that is a magic thing.
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“That brings you back to the (AA and NA’s) Serenity Prayer, ‘Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.’ That’s incredible. What will be will be, it’s nothing to do with me.
“All I can do is stay positive in my attitude, be strong and fight it, and the rest is up to my higher power.”
When first diagnosed with lung cancer, Wood blamed the 50-year habit of chain smoking “25 to 30 cigarettes a day”. A consequence of the rock and roll lifestyle he led, Wood needed a five-hour operation to have part of his lung removed.
At the time he dedicated “time to say goodbye” to loved ones, admitting that the disease “could have been curtains” for him.
Despite everything hanging in the balance, the star confirmed that he had been handed a “get-out-of-jail-free-card,” revealing in 2018 that the surgery had been a success and he was officially cancer-free.
And it seems that the star’s luck had not yet run out, as after battling small-cell cancer, Wood confirmed that again he had “come through with the all-clear”.
Small-cell cancer commonly arises in the lung but can affect areas such as the prostate, pancreas, bladder or lymph nodes.
It is so-called as the cancerous cells appear as a different size and shape under a microscope.
Macmillan Cancer Support explains that lung cancer is the third most common cancer in the UK, with around 47,000 people diagnosed with it each year.
Specifically, small-cell lung cancer (SCLC) makes up around 15 percent of all lung cancers, with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) making up the rest.
The website continues to explain that smoking tobacco is the cause of most lung cancers, and puts you at the greatest risk of developing the condition. However, those who do not smoke can still develop lung cancer.
Medical News Today explains the key differences and similarities between small cell and non-small cell lung cancer, including symptoms and outlook.
First and foremost the symptoms of both SCLC and NSCLC are similar, and do not tend to appear until the cancer reaches later stages. Common symptoms to expect include:
- A hoarse voice
- A persistent cough
- Shortness of breath and wheezing
- Difficulty swallowing
- A loss of appetite
- Chest pain and discomfort
- Blood in the mucus brought up by coughing
- Swelling in the veins of the face and neck.
Despite similar symptoms, SCLC is generally more aggressive and will spread more rapidly. Due to this, doctors tend to categorise the disease in two stages:
- The limited stage: This means that the cancer is on one side of the chest. It may be in one lung and, possibly, nearby lymph nodes.
- The extensive stage: The cancer has spread to other parts of the chest and other organs.
Treatment for SCLC cancer depends on various factors including how far the cancer has spread, the overall health of the individual and the available therapies. Treatments mainly aim to manage the disease and can include the following:
A combination of treatments can also be used depending on the needs of the individual.
The outlook for SCLC is bleak, with an overall average likelihood of living for at least another five years after diagnosis standing at six percent, in comparison to 23 percent for NSCLC.