Pancreatic Cancer: Sir John Hurt ‘More Than Optimistic’ About Diagnosis

Sir John Hurt has confirmed he is suffering from pancreatic cancer, but is quite upbeat about his prognosis.

According to the Guardian, the 75-year-old actor famous for his roles in The Elephant Man and, more recently, as the War Doctor in Doctor Who, released a statement regarding his condition.

“I have recently been diagnosed with early-stage pancreatic cancer. I am undergoing treatment and am more than optimistic about a satisfactory outcome, as indeed is the medical team.”

“I am continuing to focus on my professional commitments and will shortly be recording Jeffrey Bernard is Unwell (one of life’s small ironies) for BBC Radio 4.”

Hurt has recently been working on two movies, The History Of Love with Gemma Arterton and Sir Derek Jacobi, and the reboot of Tarzan with Margot Robbie and Samuel L. Jackson, as he is beginning treatment for pancreatic cancer.

Knighted for his services to drama in 2014, Hurt has enjoyed a long career, with one of his first roles being the android Kane in 1979’s Alien. He has also portrayed wand salesman Mister Ollivander in the Harry Potter series of movies, Stephen Ward (a major player in the Profumo affair) in Scandal and Quentin Crisp in An Englishman In New York. Hurt has been nominated twice for the Best Actor Oscar, for his roles in The Elephant Man and Midnight Express.

The Daily Mail is reporting that pancreatic cancer is a most devastating malady. In the United Kingdom, where Hurt resides, 8,800 new cases of pancreatic cancer are discovered every year. More than half of the new cases are in persons 75 or older.

Many people who are in the early stages of pancreatic cancer show no symptoms, making the diagnosis even harder. When pancreatic cancer symptoms do appear, they are usually back pain, jaundice, and unexpected weight loss.

If the pancreatic cancer tumor is large, the treatment is more difficult. Treatment options are surgery, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy. Even with early diagnosis, the prognosis for pancreatic cancer has a very poor overall outlook.

Among adults who are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, approximately 19 percent live one year past diagnosis, four percent live past five years of diagnosis, and only three percent live 10 years past diagnosis.

Hurt had been known for his wine consumption, often telling others that he would drink almost seven bottles of wine a day. That estimate was later reduced to three bottles per day. As Hurt’s health began to deteriorate, his doctors advised he discontinue drinking any alcoholic beverages, to which Hurt complied.

“I could not carry on drinking like I did or I would have died,” Hurt said.

[Image courtesy of The Mary Sue]