George Harrison tells of battle with cancer

GEORGE HARRISON, the former Beatle, has been treated for throat cancer, but was given a medical all-clear last month. He has blamed his illness entirely on an on-off smoking habit.

The 54-year-old multi-millionaire had to undergo radiation therapy for several weeks following surgery last summer to remove a small tumour in his neck. "I'm not going to die on you, folks, just yet. I am very lucky," he is reported to have said at the weekend. "Sometimes, if you say the word `cancer' everybody automatically thinks it will end in misery, but it's not always the case.

"I was very lucky because it didn't go anywhere - all it was was a little red mark on my neck."

Harrison, the youngest Beatle, first noticed the lump last July while gardening in the grounds of Friar Park, his 200-room home at Henley-on- Thames, Oxfordshire.

The operation to remove the tumour was carried out at the Princess Margaret Hospital in Windsor in August and was followed up with two weeks of radiation therapy at the Royal Marsden Hospital. The treatment was designed to destroy any surrounding cancerous cells.

"The lump was basically a disruption to a cell," said Harrison. "I got it purely from smoking. I gave up cigarettes many years ago but had started again for a while and then stopped in 1997.

"Luckily for me they found that this nodule was more of a warning than anything else. There are many different types of cancerous cells and this was a very basic type."

Further radiation therapy began at the Royal Marsden Hospital in September, and in January the guitarist and composer travelled to the Mayo Clinic in the US for tests which revealed that the cancer had not returned.

Harrison, who went back for further tests last month, said: "I went back and was given the final all-clear - a clean bill of health. Some people are lucky."

Since the break-up of the Beatles in the early 1970s, Harrison has mixed his solo career with a little film producing. His HandMade Films successes include The Life of Brian, Private Function, Withnail and I and Mona Lisa, but in 1994 he sold the company for pounds 5m after profits slumped.

He has also played in several all-star rock line-ups including the Travelling Wilburys with Bob Dylan, and indulged his passions for motor-racing and the music of George Formby.

He shares his Oxfordshire mansion with his second wife Olivia, 47, and their 19-year-old son Dhani. The couple have been married for 20 years.