Actor Stanley Tucci revealed that he quietly underwent treatment for cancer three years ago. Tucci also spoke candidly about how losing his first wife to cancer shaped his outlook on his own diagnosis.
About three years ago, doctors found a tumor at the base of Tucci’s tongue, he explained in a new interview with Vera, the Virgin Atlantic in-flight magazine. “It was too big to operate, so they had to do high-dose radiation and chemo,” Tucci said. He also had to use a feeding tube for six months.
“I’d vowed I’d never do anything like that because my first wife died of cancer, and to watch her go through those treatments for years was horrible,” he continued. Tucci’s late wife, Kate, died in 2009 due to breast cancer.
Tucci didn’t share too many other details about his diagnosis or treatment process. Treatment for oral cancer (which includes cancer in the mouth and throat areas) can involve surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, or the use of other targeted drugs, the Mayo Clinic explains. But the exact treatment plan depends on the location of the tumor, how large it is, and how far the cancer has spread.
Surgical removal for oral cancer, in particular, can be challenging because if the tumor is large enough, removing it may require also removing a portion of the tongue or jawbone, the Mayo Clinic says. In that case, a patient might also require reconstructive surgery to restore the mouth. Typically, surgery is used in the case of early-stage cancers that are small and haven’t spread, the American Cancer Society explains. Radiation, often used in combination with chemotherapy, might be used after surgery or in a case where surgery isn’t an option, as in Tucci’s case.
Having lost his wife to cancer previously and seen the toll that these treatments can take, Tucci was concerned about the effects his cancer journey might have on his family, including his kids. “The kids were great, but it was hard for them,” he said in the interview. “I could barely make it to the twins’ high school graduation.”
Thankfully, Tucci said that his treatment was successful and the cancer is not likely to return. Cancer “makes you more afraid and less afraid at the same time,” Tucci said. “I feel much older than I did before I was sick. But you still want to get ahead and get things done.”