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Famous Survivors of Lung Cancer

Updated October 13, 2018 7.6k views15 items

Lung cancer is a serious disease that often requires intense treatments and invasive surgeries, but several famous people with lung cancer went on to live happy lives for many years after their initial diagnosis. The prognosis for lung cancer is generally bleak, which is what makes it such a scary disease. Luckily, medical breakthroughs, experimental procedures, and other innovative treatments can improve survival rates. Celebrities with lung cancer often share their stories candidly, which can help others learn from their experiences and feel less alone. 

Celebrities who survived lung cancer often lived with the disease for many years, far surpassing the low survival rates associated with the disease. John Wayne, for example, had a successful lung cancer surgery in 1964 and lived for over a decade more. Some celebs managed to beat the disease altogether. Lance Armstrong was diagnosed with testicular cancer that spread to his lungs, but ended up cancer free after treatment. Other celebrities who had lung cancer include Ayn Rand, Ronnie Wood, and Shelley Morrison. To learn more, browse the list below.

  • Ronnie Wood
    Photo: Mexicaans fotomagazijn / flickr / CC-BY-NC 2.0

    Rolling Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood had surgery for lung cancer in 2017. Wood was fortunate as his cancer was contained to one lung and easier than average to treat.

    "If your body is riddled with cancer, it’s a losing cause. Luckily, all mine was contained within the left lung and I was fortunate enough to get shot of it, bang. There was none in the rest of my body so I didn’t require chemo," he said in a 2018 interview with Rolling Stone Magazine.

    • Age: 73
    • Birthplace: Hillingdon, United Kingdom
  • Tammy Faye

    Tammy Faye
    Photo: Fredrick Brown / Getty Images

    Tammy Faye Baker Messner was diagnosed with colon cancer in 1996 and in 2004 she revealed that it had spread to her lungs. She fought the disease for three years, but by 2007 her doctors had stopped treatment. She died on July 20, 2007 a the age of 65.

    • Age: Dec. at 65 (1942-2007)
    • Birthplace: International Falls, Minnesota, United States of America
  • Malcolm Young

    Malcolm Young
    Photo: Pandemonium73 / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

    AC/DC musician Malcolm Young was treated for lung cancer in 2008. The treatment was successful and Young lived an additional nine years. He passed away in 2017, at the age of 64, after suffering from dementia for several years.

    • Age: Dec. at 64 (1953-2017)
    • Birthplace: Glasgow, United Kingdom
  • Bryant Gumbel
    Photo: Peabody Awards / flickr / CC-BY 2.0

    In 2009, Bryant Gumbel underwent surgery to remove a tumor from his lung. A year after the treatment, he was in good health again and cancer free.

    • Age: 72
    • Birthplace: New Orleans, Louisiana, United States of America