Megadeth frontman Dave Mustaine, 58, and his band returned to the stage for their first live appearance in 15 months, and bandmates, supporters and his family were filled with gratitude that the throat cancer survivor is rocking on.
Mustaine announced his throat cancer diagnosis in June 2019, and his treatment plan forced the legendary band to cancel much of their 2019 tour.Read More
In a tweet from his daughter, it seems that the musician has undergone chemo and radiation, and faced the prospect of not being able to sing again.
I am so proud of my father, @DaveMustaine, completing an astounding comeback tonight in Helsinki after battling cancer, tons of chemo/radiation, & a grim possibility of not being able to sing again. It seems it’s just as I predicted on the #Megacruise— he’s back better than ever.
— ELECTRA (@electramustaine) January 20, 2020
His bandmates were equally ecstatic to play together and thanked the power of prayer.
“This is a photo from tonight’s tour kick off show in Helsinki, one filled with overwhelming gratitude from the four of us for the return of Dave’s health, and the privilege for us to perform for you again,” bandmate and bassist David Ellefson shared on Facebook.
“Life is a gift & our health is precious. Thank you for all the prayers and support to Dave and the @megadeth camp these past months….they surely worked!” he wrote.
This is a photo from tonight's tour kick off show in Helsinki, one filled with overwhelming gratitude from the four of…
Supporters weighed in on a post of the concert, with so many happy to see him back on stage.
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“Great news to hear Dave has kicked the hell out of his cancer,” wrote one.
“What a comeback Dave … so glad you’re back and thrashing,” commented another.
Mustaine’s Cancer Journey
“I’ve been diagnosed with throat cancer,” Mustaine wrote in a Facebook post in June. “It’s clearly something to be respected and faced head on — but I’ve faced obstacles before. I’m working closely with my doctors, and we’ve mapped out a treatment plan which they feel has a 90% success rate. Treatment has already begun.”
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In an interview, Mustaine told Rolling Stone his cancer was “a squamous cell carcinoma on the base of my tongue … it had gone from one side of my mouth, and it had also gone to two lymph nodes. So it was pretty serious.”
But he focused his energy on healing, he told the magazine: “I prayed about it, and I believe that that was the whole reason I got healed so fast…everybody has their own things that they believe. And I believe that taking good care of myself and being physically fit, as well as spiritually fit, got me back to this point.”
In September, Mustaine wrote a message on the band’s website that read in part: “I’m almost through the last round of treatment and my doctors are feeling very positive regarding my progress. I want to thank all of you for the support and well wishes these last few months. I can’t express enough gratitude as it has made this hard road easier knowing you are in my corner fighting with me!”
Signs and Symptoms of Throat Cancer
“The most common symptoms for throat cancer are a painless neck mass that the patient may just feel when they’re shaving or washing their face,” Dr. Jessica Geiger, a medical oncologist specializing in head and neck cancer at Cleveland Clinic Cancer Center, told SurvivorNet in a previous interview.
“Oftentimes, we have patients who are referred from their dentist’s office,” she said. “They’ll notice a sore that doesn’t seem to be healing, or a wound that is on the inside of their mouth or around their teeth. Then, we set the patients up with a biopsy to confirm cancer or to show something else and we proceed from there.”
“Sometimes it’s painful, but a lot of times they don’t feel anything except just a lump there,” Dr. Geiger said. “Their doctors often then will order imaging such as an ultrasound of the neck or a CAT scan and we can see the mass there.”
“Typically, a patient who develops a sore on the tongue or a lesion in the inside of the mouth that doesn’t heal, they’ll be seen by their primary doctor first who then will refer them to an ear, nose and throat surgeon or an oral surgeon,” she tells us.
Primary Causes: Smoking and the HPV Virus
Often, throat cancer is caused by HPV, or human papillomavirus, which is the most common sexually transmitted disease. It usually goes away by itself, but sometimes it leads to other diseases.
“The most common type of head and neck cancer is HPV-related throat cancer. So this is cancer that starts in the back of the throat such as in the tonsils or the base of the tongue,” Dr. Geiger said. “The treatment for throat cancer, regardless if it’s caused by HPV or tobacco smoking, is the same. We know that this treatment causes a lot of side effects, a lot of longterm side effects. Difficult swallowing, neck fibrosis or scar tissue so it makes it difficult for the patients to turn their head. There’s a lot of longterm side effects from radiation and chemotherapy that come about.”
Treatment Options for Throat Cancer
“In early-stage throat cancer, the cancer is confined to just what we call the primary tumor in the back of the throat or the tonsils, or the base of the tongue,” said Dr. Geiger. “But if the PET scan shows that the cancer has moved to the lungs or the liver, then our approach would not be to cure cancer but to treat it and to keep it under control,” she says. “It’s really complicated because there are three stage 4s. It’s not like breast cancer where, once you’re Stage 4, you’re incurable,” she continues.
“In more advanced throat cancer cases, which is actually the most common stage that we see,” she adds, “in addition to the primary tumor, lymph nodes of the neck are involved.”
“Patients who have disease that has spread outside of the head and neck region, meaning below the clavicles, into the lungs or into the liver, we call that distant metastatic disease and by definition, those patients are considered incurable,” she continues, “So our efforts at treatment would be focused on palliative therapy, controlling the disease but, unfortunately, not curing it.”