Dolph Lundgren reveals secret cancer diagnosis

Actor said at one point he was only given two to three years left to live

Inga Parkel
Thursday 11 May 2023 05:29 BST
Lundgren talks Chuck Norris

Dolph Lundgren has opened up about his ongoing treatment for cancer.

The Swedish actor, who shot to fame as the Soviet boxer Ivan Drago in Rocky IV, was diagnosed in 2015 when doctors found a cancerous tumour in his kidney.

The first five years, “things were fine”, Lundgren said during a recent appearance on In Depth with Graham Bensinger. “I did scans every six months, then every year.”

In 2020, he began suffering from acid reflux and went in for an MRI. “They found that there were a few more tumours around the area,” he said, gesturing towards his abdominal region.

Lundgren underwent surgery to remove six tumours. He said just as he was about to direct and star in a movie, he got a call from the doctor informing him “they found one more tumour in the liver”.

“At that point, it started to hit me that this is kind of something serious,” said the 65-year-old. After going in for a scan to prepare for surgery, he received another call from the surgeon telling him that the tumour had “grown now”, meaning “we can’t take it out”.

“It’s like the size of a small lemon. So now, if they can’t take it out that means you have to do systemic therapy,” Lundgren explained.

“But then I started getting these side effects where I started getting diarrhoea and lost a lot of weight, and that wasn’t very nice for myself or for my poor fianceé to suffer through that.

Dolph Lundgren

“I had signed on to Expendables 4 and the sequel to Aquaman, [with] both pictures shooting in London in the fall of 2021,” he continued. “They had a really good guy there who was put in charge of my care.”

His London specialist suggested he “probably take a break and spend more time with your family and so forth”.

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

Getting sentimental, the 65-year-old said: “You kind look at your life and... I’ve had a freaking great life. I’ve led like five lifetimes in one already.

“In the midst of shooting these two movies and being kind of depressed, I decided, ‘screw it, I might as well get a second opinion’.”

He said he’s since connected with a doctor who reevaluated his cancer and prescribed him medications to shrink the tumours.

Asked what the prognosis is now, Lundgren responded: “Hopefully, when they take these out, there’s no cancer activity and the medication that I’m taking is going to suppress everything else.”

Lundgren will reprise his role as King Nereus in Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom – releasing on 20 December – alongside Jason Momoa and Amber Heard, whom he previously said was “terrific” to work with.

He also makes his return in Expendables 4 – releasing on 22 September – opposite his old foe, Sylvester Stallone.

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