Dolph Lundgren has been privately battling cancer for the past eight years.
During an interview on In Depth With Graham Bensinger, the Swedish action star, 65, revealed for the first time that he was diagnosed with cancer in 2015. Doctors were able to remove a cancerous tumor in his kidney, "then I did scans every six months, then you do it every year and it was fine, you know, for five years," Lundgren said.
But in 2020, "I was back in Sweden and had some kind of acid reflux," Lundgren recalled. "I didn't know what it was. So I did an MRI and they found there were a few more tumors around the area." Six tumors were removed during surgery, but one more tumor — which had grown to the "size of a lemon" and could not be easily removed — had been discovered in his liver in the fall of 2021, so he began systemic therapy.
Michael Kovac/Getty Images Dolph Lundgren
"We realized it was a lot worse than we thought," Lundgren's fiancée Emma Krokdal said. "[The doctor] kind of started talking about all these different tumors, like, in the lung and the stomach and the spine, outside the kidneys." The doctor, Lundgren said, told him, "You should probably take a break and spend more time with your family,' and so forth."
"I asked him, 'How long do you think I've got left?'" Lundgren recounted. "I think he said two or three years, but I could tell in his voice that he probably thought it was less. I thought it was it, for sure."
The Expendables star eventually got a second opinion from a doctor in London, where he was filming sequels to the Aquaman and Expendables franchise, and learned that his kidney cancer was mutating more like lung cancer, leading to an overhaul of his treatment. "If I had gone on the other treatment, I'd have had about three to four months left," Lundgren said, adding that the new treatment shrunk the tumors by 20% and 30% within three months.
"2022 was basically watching these medications do their thing," Lundgren said. "Finally things had shrunk to about 90%. Now I'm in the process of taking out the remaining scar tissue in those tumors. The prognosis is that, hopefully, when they take these out, there's no cancer activity and the medication that I'm taking is gonna suppress everything else."
Lundgren has a hopeful outlook. "You just appreciate being lucky enough to be alive," he said.
Lundgren is set to reprise his role as Gunnar Jensen in Expendables 4, out Sept. 22, and King Nereus in Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, out Dec. 20. Other upcoming movies include Drago, Hellfire, and Wanted Man.
Watch his interview above.
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