By Pat Carragher - May 15, 2023
Dolph Lundgren revealed that he has been living with kidney cancer for the past eight years.
The 65-year-old shared the news last week during an appearance on “In Depth With Graham Bensinger.”
“They found a tumor in my kidney and took it out in 2015,” Lundgren said. “Then I did scans every six months. Then you do it every year and it was fine for five years.”
Lundgren went on to explain that he underwent an MRI in 2020 to try to find the source of what he thought was acid reflux. The testing revealed that his cancer had returned. He had surgery to remove the new tumors, but his treatment wouldn’t stop there.
“The doctor called me when I was in Alabama ready to shoot and said, ‘They found one more tumor in the liver,’” Lundgren said. “At that point, it started to hit me that this is kind of something serious. They did a scan to prepare for surgery. And the surgeon called me and said, ‘No, it’s grown now. It’s too big. We can’t take it out. It’s like the size of a small lemon.’”
Kidney Cancer Statistics
According to the American Cancer Society, approximately 82,000 Americans will be diagnosed with kidney cancer in 2023. Kidney cancer ranks in the top 10 most common cancers in both men and women. Overall, the lifetime risk for developing kidney cancer is about 2% for men and 1% for women. Renal cell carcinoma is the most common type of kidney cancer, accounting for about 9 out of 10 diagnoses.
Dr. Jad Chahoud, an oncologist in the Genitourinary Oncology Program at Moffitt Cancer Center, says the survival rate of kidney cancer diagnoses has improved tremendously in the past 30 years thanks to advancement in treatments.
“In 1996 the five-year survival of stage 4 kidney cancer was less than 10%,” Chahoud said. “Then in the 2000s, tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKI) were introduced and the survival rate jumped up to about 25%. Now most recently with immunotherapy doublets, the five year median survival has stretched out to almost 50%.”
Targeted Therapies Provide New Options
Lundgren sought a second opinion after undergoing systemic therapy. He was then given a targeted therapy geared toward a mutation he has that is common in lung cancer.
“These mutations are not common in renal cell carcinoma but we do find them,” Chahoud said. “It’s a reminder of the importance of genomic next generation molecular testing. Even if it’s something that’s only found in 5% of patients, you may end up finding uncommon kidney cancer mutations that are common in other diseases that have targeted therapies.”
Lundgren couldn’t believe the progress that took place within just months of starting targeted therapy.
“Things were shrinking by 20, 30%,” Lundgren said. “2022 was basically watching these medications do their thing and finally things that shrunk into about 90%. Now I’m in the process of taking out the remaining scar tissue of these tumors. Hopefully when they take these out, there is no cancer activity, and the medication that I’m taking is going to suppress everything else.”