Hamilton reveals he had to risk losing his voice in pioneering procedure after tongue tumours returned and spread to throat
Aerosmith’s Tom Hamilton has revealed his terror at being forced to undergo experimental surgery after his cancer returned in 2009.
The bassist was treated for tumours on his tongue five years ago, and after chemotherapy was given the all-clear. But three years later the disease came back, and it spread into his throat.
With his ability to speak and sing at risk, he turned to Dr Steven Zeitels, a specialist who has devised a new form of laser treatment for cancer. But it had never been tried on the tongue area before.
Hamilton tells KSAT: “I was just terrified. I really thought, ‘Okay, I’m really looking at not being able to talk.
“The second I had a tiny bit of consciousness after the procedure, the first thing I did was make a sound. It felt normal and it sounded normal.
“I’d like to thank the doctor for helping me win the lottery.”
Zeitels explains his pioneering technique involves the use of greenlight KPT laser, but he’d only used it on vocal cords before. He warned Hamilton there was a real risk his voice and breathing passage could suffer permanent damage.
He says: “This is not your classic way, or even a typical way, to try to remove cancer from the tongue.
“Where there’s a lot of cancer, there will be a lot of blood. Where there’s a lot of blood there will be a lot of combustion – so you’re actually watching the tissues burn completely differently.”
The bassist missed some Aerosmith shows while he underwent the procedure, and was replaced by David Hull from guitarist Joe Perry’s solo band. The Boston giants are set to tour South America and Japan starting in October.