Actor Dolph Lundgren reveals 8-year cancer battle

Actor Dolph Lundgren reveals 8-year cancer battle


Spreading kidney disease awareness during National Kidney Month

Actor Dolph Lundgren has revealed his secret eight-year battle with cancer. Lundgren, 65, revealed the diagnosis on an episode of the podcast and digital show “In Depth With Graham Bensinger,” saying in 2015, doctors found a cancerous tumor in his kidneys.

For five years, doctors in Los Angeles monitored the tumors with scans, but in 2020 more tumors appeared. He underwent surgery to remove six of them, but then, doctors found another, larger one. 

“At that point, it started to hit me that this is kind of something serious,” he said. “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.'”

Lundgren, known for his role as boxer Ivan Drago in the “Rocky” films, continued to work despite the diagnosis. He filmed the fourth installment in the “Expendable” franchise and other films in 2021.

His doctors, however, advised him to take a break and spend time with family, he said. 

“So I kind of asked him, ‘How long do you think I got left?’ I think he said two or three years, but I could tell in his voice that he probably thought it was less,” Lundgren said.

“I started to feel bad for my kids and my fiance and the people around [me],” he said. “Because I’m still a fairly young guy and active.” 

Lundgren decided to get a second opinion from oncologist Dr. Alexandra Drakaki, who also joined the interview and explained the treatment Lundgren received. She said after another biopsy of the tumor, they found a mutation common in lung cancer, and they got off label use of a lung cancer treatment for Lundgren. 

Lundgren’s daughters, Greta and Ida, also joined the emotional interview. “[Dr. Drakaki] was like, ‘This is really good news. There’s so many treatments that target this mutation, we’re going to start with this one, that seems to be the most effective,” Greta said. “I remember we were driving home and we couldn’t speak. It was like a movie.”

“If I’d gone on the other treatment, I had about three or four months left. I couldn’t believe that that it would be that radical of a difference, that within three months, things were shrinking by 20, 30%,” Lundgren said, adding the tumors have shrunk by about 90%. 

Lundgren said sharing that good news with family and friends was emotional. 

“I used to say his cancer is melting away,” Drakaki said. “There are certain parts of his body responding really well. There are some lesions that we can’t see anymore. So that’s above expectations.” She said she hopes he now has years to live and that he will stay on the treatment and continue to get biopsies. 

The action star said his nearly decade-long steroid use could have contributed to the cancer. 

Lundgren, who is undergoing treatment to remove the remaining scar tissue from the tumors, said he is sharing his story publicly now to help others. He said he hopes his medication continues to suppress the cancer. 

“If you can save one person’s life who was in my situation, then it’s worth it, for sure,” he said. 

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