Health & Wellness

Larry King opens up about secret lung cancer surgery: 'I was lucky'

Larry King hopes that his recent health scare will serve as an example for others to get regular medical checkups.

The veteran broadcaster, 83, recently revealed to People magazine that he underwent a secret surgery after his physician discovered a trace of what appeared to be lung cancer during a routine appointment in July.

Noel Vasquez / Getty Images
Larry King on Sept. 12 in Universal City, California

“I didn’t have any pain, but when they took a chest X-ray the doctor said, ‘There’s a little cloud here,’” he told the publication. After undergoing a CT scan and a positron emission tomography scan, King said doctors diagnosed him with stage 1 lung cancer.

“They said I was lucky and smart to get annual chest X-rays because lung cancer doesn’t give you any signs until it’s in late stages,” he said. “And by then it’s too late.”

King was allowed to jet off on a two-week European speaking tour after his diagnosis before he returned stateside for the procedure.

“They went in through my ribs with a tiny camera and snipped it out,” he explained. “I only had a little pain and some shortness of breath but once my speech is back full — and that took about a week — I went right back to work.”

The TV and radio icon, who recently returned for the sixth season of "Larry King Now," said doctors told him his lung cancer was a belated result of his longtime smoking habit, in which he smoked up to three packs a day. (He quite smoking cold turkey 30 years ago after having a heart attack.)

“I never thought it would happen to me. I saw all the warnings but I never paid attention,” he said. “I loved smoking but when I had the heart attack that February of 1987 I stopped that day and never reached for one again. It was easy for me because I got scared to death.”

King has had other health scares in the past: in 1987, he was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, and in 1999, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer.

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