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Iron Maiden Drummer Clear Of Cancer

21 December 2022 | 12:45 pm | Mary Varvaris
Originally Appeared In

"It was very good for me that I caught it in stage 1."

(Pic by John McMurtrie)

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Iron Maiden's drummer Nicko McBrain quietly dealt with laryngeal cancer in 2020 but only discussed it in one interview with the University Of Miami Health System last year.

However, Blabbermouth has picked up the story, and with all cancer stories that lead to people with platforms spreading awareness, we think it's essential to remind people to check on themselves if they feel something is wrong.

At some point in 2019, the metal legend noticed a change in his voice that couldn't be explained by Iron Maiden's rigorous touring schedule. "When I play drums with the band, I actually sort of scream and yell while I play, like a Judo guy slapping the mat," McBrain admitted.

"When you are lying down in a quiet room, and you speak and hear your voice in your head and have a cold, you sound different," he explained further, recalling how the vocal issues felt different to what he'd previously experienced. 

"This happened to me. I thought this is very reminiscent — this different-sounding voice of mine — to when I finish a tour or after a show. I didn’t have a cold or any symptoms of illness at all. I started to feel that I was clearing my throat more when I was in conversations. So, I just took it upon myself to call my doctor."

In 2020, Dr David E. Rosow performed an endoscopy on McBrain and diagnosed him with stage 1 laryngeal cancer. 

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As the cancer was found so early, McBrain will lead the rest of his years with excellent quality of life, according to Dr Rosow. 

"I thoroughly recommend that anyone who may feel there is something different with their voice to go and get it checked out," McBrain advises. "And don’t put it off. It was very good for me that I caught it in stage 1."

Dr Rosow added, "Anyone who is experiencing a voice change that lasts longer than three weeks should see an otolaryngologist who can evaluate a person’s vocal folds... The prognosis with early (stage 1) tumours is excellent, with published cure rates of 95% and up."

Nicko McBrain joined Iron Maiden in 1982. He's recorded every album with them since their fourth album, 1983's Piece Of Mind.

Rage Against The Machine's bassist Tim Commerford recently revealed that he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer. 

Commerford detailed how his diagnosis came to light to SPIN. "I went to get life insurance, but my PSA (Prostate Specific-Antigen) numbers were up. I couldn’t get it. They wouldn’t insure me. At first, the number was very low — like one-point-something. I watched it over the course of a year and a half, and it kept elevating further. Eventually, they did a biopsy and found out I had cancer, so they took my prostate out," he said. 

"I had been thinking, well, because they’re watching it and let it get to this point, maybe it’s not that big of a deal. I blame myself. I should have said, ‘my numbers are elevated, and what does that really mean?’ I should have taken it more seriously.

"Now I’m in the situation that I’m in, which is, hold your breath for six months," he added. "It’s not a good one and not one that I’m happy about. I’m just trying to grab ahold of the reins. It’s gonna be a long journey, I hope. My dad died in his early 70s from cancer, and my mom died from cancer in her 40s. Split the difference to 65, and I’ve got ten years. I’m trying to get to the 100-song mark — I have some goals now."