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Aerosmith’s Bassist is Treated for Tongue Cancer with Laser Surgery

Tue, Aug 9, 2011

Oral Cancer News


Aerosmith will be performing in Mexico and South America this fall and one of the band members will be along for the tour thanks to a radical medical procedure. In one Aerosmith song, bassist Tom Hamilton sends a message to his throat and tongue cancer with the lyrics “you’ve got no business with me.”

Five years ago, Hamilton underwent chemotherapy and radiation for tongue-base cancer, but it came back and extended into his voice box. That is when he turned to Dr. Steven Zeitels. “This is not your classic way, or even traditional way, to try and remove a cancer from the tongue base,” Zeitels said.

Radical surgery was now Hamilton’s only option. But that could leave his voice and breathing passage permanently damaged.

“I was just terrified,” Hamilton said. “I really though, ‘Oh, I am looking at not being able to talk.’”

Zeitels has treated vocal cord cancer with the green-light KTP laser, so Hamilton agreed to be the first person treated that way for tongue base cancer.

The laser emits a green light, which is concentrated in the extra blood running through the cancer.

“Where there is a lot of cancer, there will be a lot of blood,” Zeitels said. “Where there is a lot of blood, there will be a lot of combustion so that you are actually watching the tissues burn completely different”

But not everyone is a candidate for this surgery.

“The second I had a tiny bit of consciousness, the first thing I did was make a sound, and it felt normal, and it sounded normal.” Hamilton said.

A major advantage of the laser is that it can be done repeatedly as new benign or malignant lesions are found.

In this case the patient feels the doctor saved his voice and his life.

Hamilton will be hitting the road this fall as part of the ‘Aero Force One’ tour to Mexico, South America and Japan.

This news story was resourced by the Oral Cancer Foundation, and vetted for appropriateness and accuracy.

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