TV star Larry Hagman succumbs to oral cancer
DALLAS, Texas, USA: Last Friday, Larry Hagman, best known for his role as J.R. Ewing in the TV series "Dallas," died of oral cancer at the age of 81. The actor, who leaped into fame as the character of Major Nelson in the comedy series "I Dream of Jeannie," passed away surrounded by his family at the Medical City Dallas Hospital.
In October last year, the actor was diagnosed with cancer after doctors had found a tumor in his tongue. He underwent chemo- and radiotherapy until he reported that his cancer was in remission in March this year. Only shortly afterwards, he started filming again for the continuation of Dallas, which premiered in the U.S. in June this year.
In the early 1990s, Hagman was diagnosed with liver cirrhosis and a cancerous tumor developed a few years later. In 1995, he received a liver transplant.
Although he was known to be an excessive drinker and smoker during the early years of his career, he later served as chairman of the American Cancer Society's Great American Smokeout, an annual event to encourage people in the U.S. to quit smoking, for many years. Hagman also released a video titled "Larry Hagman's Stop Smoking for Life." Following the liver transplant, he also supported the National Kidney Foundation and promoted organ donation.
According to the WHO, oral cancer is the eighth most common cancer worldwide and the occurrence is particularly high among men especially in industrialized countries, partly reflecting the long tradition of smoking and excessive alcohol consumption. Almost 40,000 people in the U.S. will be diagnosed with oral or pharyngeal cancer this year, of whom only slightly more than half will be alive in five years, the Oral Cancer Foundation estimates. Oral cancer kills roughly one person per hour every day in the U.S., the organization stated.
In addition to Hagman, the disease has affected a number of famous people, like Dutch rock star Eddie Van Halen and U.S. actor Michael Douglas, who have also helped raise oral cancer awareness by promoting the importance of early screenings.