IRON MAIDEN drummer Nicko McBrain says he was diagnosed with laryngeal cancer back in 2020
Nicko says he received the cancer diagnosis after undergoing an endoscopy at the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center in Miami. The cancer was surgically removed soon after with the 70-year-old drummer now getting check-ups every few months to stay on top of things.
According to the University Of Miami Health System website, which spoke to Nicko about his cancer battle, McBrain decided to get himself checked out after he noticed a change in his voice that could not be explained.
“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 said. “[But] 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. 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 on myself to call my doctor.”
David E. Rosow, M.D., FACS, director of the Division of Laryngology and Voice at the University of Miami Health System, who performed McBrain’s endoscopy, said laryngeal cancer is extremely curable with excellent quality of life if it is caught early.
“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,” Dr. Rosow said. “Many cases present with a voice change like Nicko’s and often when the tumor is as small as one to two millimeters, which makes the tumor easier to completely remove. The prognosis with early (stage 1) tumors is excellent, with published cure rates of 95% and up.”
McBrain, who had the cancer in a part of his vocal cords, said: “I thoroughly recommend that anyone who may feel there is something different with their voice to go and get it checked out. And don’t put it off. It was very good for me that I caught it in stage 1.”
Back in late 2014, IRON MAIDEN singer Bruce Dickinson was also diagnosed with cancer of the throat. The legendary vocalist, who had a golf ball-size tumor on his tongue and another in the lymph node on the right side of his neck, overcame the affliction after radiation and nine weeks of chemotherapy.