Sick Celebrities


Luciano Pavarotti’s battle with pancreatic cancer


Luciano Pavarotti was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in July 2006. The operatic legend lived just over one year with the illness before meeting his end in September 2007 at the age of 71.

In 2005 the singer underwent neck surgery, followed by back surgery in 2006, after which various complications developed. These saw Pavarotti cancel several concerts in the USA, UK and Canada. A decision to retire from performing was made around this time, but it was during the “farewell tour“ that the star was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

In that same month, Luciano Pavarotti underwent surgery at an undisclosed New York hospital. His manager at the time, Terri Robinson, assured the public that the tenor was doing well and doctors remained positive, the Washington Post reported: “Fortunately, the mass was able to be completely removed at surgery … Mr. Pavarotti is recovering well, and his physicians are encouraged by the physical and emotional resilience of their patient.”

Over 40,000 individuals in the USA are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer every year, with around 80% dying from the disease. The survival rate is relatively low and only around 5% of those having contracted the illness live beyond five years. Despite this, Pavarotti’s manager remained optimistic that the Farewell Tour would resume in early 2007, according to the news provider.

In the year before his death, Pavarotti underwent five bouts of chemotherapy and was hospitalised when he contracted a fever in August, the BBC reported. Following his death, manager Terri Robinson released a statement saying: “The Maestro fought a long, tough battle against the pancreatic cancer which eventually took his life … In fitting with the approach that characterised his life and work, he remained positive until finally succumbing to the last stages of his illness.”

The singer, who became associated with his acclaimed performance of Nessun Dorma, from Puccini’s Turandot, was said to have remained collected until the very end by his doctor, Antonio Frassoldati, who told Sky TG24 that the tenor was “always totally conscious of the situation, he always sought to fight the disease… and he was very calm”.

Luciano Pavarotti has been hailed for bringing opera to a wider audience and his voice became the mark of the 1990 football World Cup. He commented: “We’ve reached 1.5 billion people with opera … If you want to use the word commercial, or something more derogatory, we don’t care. Use whatever you want”, the BBC reported.

Other celebrities who have battled pancreatic cancer include actor Patrick Swayze and Bollywood legend Nargis Dutt.


Back to top