IRON MAIDEN Drummer NICKO McBRAIN’s Secretly Battled Laryngeal Cancer In 2020

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IRON MAIDEN drummer Nicko McBrain was diagnosed with stage 1 laryngeal cancer in 2020 and kept it under wraps until now, when a 2021 article by the University Of Miami Health System was discovered by media, explaining that his successful surgery at the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center has made him an advocate for early detection.

The now-70-year-old musician received his cancer diagnosis after undergoing an endoscopy at the aforementioned center. Within a week, McBrain‘s cancer was surgically removed and he now gets check-ups every few months to make sure the cancer hasn’t returned.

McBrain explained being hoarse in the hours and even days after a show or tour was typical. “When I play drums with the band, I actually sort of scream and yell while I play, like a Judo guy slapping the mat,” the musician said. But in 2019, he noticed a change in his voice that could not be explained by a performance or touring.

“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.,” McBrain said. “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.”

And it’s a good thing he did. McBrain was diagnosed with stage 1 laryngeal cancer, but fortunately landed at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, one of only 71 National Cancer Institute-designated cancer centers in the United States and one of only two in Florida. Cancer in this part of the body can grow in and around vocal cords and other structures near the voice box. It takes sub-specialists like those at Sylvester to accurately diagnose and treat these types of cancers.

McBrain’s family doctor referred him to David E. Rosow, M.D., FACS, director of the Division of Laryngology and Voice at the University of Miami Health System, who performed the endoscopy in 2020 that revealed McBrain’s cancer. Dr. Rosow removed the cancer the following week and McBrain, who gets check-ups every few months to make sure the cancer hasn’t returned, is in remission and getting ready to go back on the road with Iron Maiden next year.

Dr Rosow 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. 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.”

Nicko isn’t the first member of MAIDEN to beat cancer. Back in late 2014, IRON MAIDEN‘s Bruce Dickinson was diagnosed with throat cancer. The singer, who had a golf gall-size tumor on his tongue and another in the lymph node on the right side of his neck, got the all-clear in May 2015 after radiation and nine weeks of chemotherapy.

Iron Maiden grossed $76.1 million across 47 shows with 984,000 attendees in 2022, and will hit the road for their “Future Past Tour” in June and July 2023. The tour will focus on the band’s most recent album “Senjutsu”, as well as their 1986 record “Somewhere In Time.”

6/3 — Tampere, Finland @ Nokia Arena
6/7 — Bergen, Norway @ Koengen
6/13 — Krakow, Poland @ Tauron Arena
6/19 — Zurich, Switzerland @ Hallenstadion
6/24 — Dublin, Ireland @ 3 Arena
6/26 — Glasgow, Scotland @ Ovo Hydro
6/28 — Leeds, England @ First Direct Arena
6/30 — Manchester, England @ AO Arena
7/3 — Nottingham, England @ Motorpoint Arena
7/4 — Birmingham, England @ Utilita Arena
7/7 — London, England @ O2 Arena
7/11 — Amsterdam, The Netherlands @ Ziggo Dome
7/13 — Antwerp, Belgium @ Sportpaleis
7/15 — Milan, Italy — The Rreturn of the Gods Festival
7/18 — Barcelona, Spain @ Palau Sant Jordi
7/20 — Murcia, Spain @ Estadio Enrique Roca
7/22 — Bilbao, Spain @ Bizkaia Arena Bec!


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