Val Kilmer, 59, was recently seen walking the red carpey at a screening of Cinema Twain in San Diego, California. The Top Gun and Batman Forever actor wore a bandana to cover his tracheostomy, and otherwise appeared happy and healthy. A tracheostomy is the name given to an opening at the front of the neck to help patients breathe. The treatment could be used to deliver oxygen to the lungs in people that struggle to breathe if the throat is blocked – including cancer patients.
Kilmer revealed his throat cancer diagnosis in December 2017, for the first time.
He had previously denied reports that he was taken ill, but confirmed his diagnosis in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter.
It’s still possible to enjoy a good quality of life with a tracheostomy, said the NHS.
While some people initially struggle to eat, talk or exercise, most people adapt to life with a tracheostomy, it said.
“A tracheostomy is an opening created at the front of the neck so a tube can be inserted into the windpipe [trachea] to help you breathe,” said the NHS.
“If necessary, the tube can be connected to an oxygen supply and a breathing machine called a ventilator.
“The tube can also be used to remove any fluid that’s built up in the throat and windpipe.
“A tracheostomy can also be used to bypass an airway that’s become blocked as a result of an injury, infection, burn, or a cancer tumour – this can sometimes happen with mouth cancer, laryngeal cancer or thyroid gland cancer.
“It may be necessary to carry out a tracheostomy to remove fluid that’s built up in the airways.”
Throat cancer refers to a tumour that develops in the throat [the pharynx], the voice box [larynx], or the tonsils, added the Mayo Clinic.
It’s not entirely known what causes throat cancer, but there are some factors that raise your risk.
Smoking, drinking lots of alcohol, not eating enough fruit and vegetables, and gastroesophageal reflux disease all raise your risk of throat cancer.
The symptoms of throat cancer can be difficult to spot, and may be easily ignored.
But, the most common symptoms include having a bad cough, difficulty swallowing, having a lump or sore that doesn’t heal, or a persistent sore throat.
Some people may even notice subtle changes to their voice. The sound of their voice may be slightly more hoarse, or they may struggle to speak clearly.
You should speak to a doctor if you notice any new signs or symptoms of throat cancer that won’t go away.