Jack Hawkins’ tumour lead to his untimely death

Doctor explains the symptoms of throat cancer

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Born on September 14, 1910, Jack Hawkins made his first theatrical debut at the age of 12, playing the elf king in a pantomime called Where The Rainbow Ends. Igniting his passion for the performative arts, Hawkins gained multiple accolades for his acting career over the years. Take the Zulueta Prize, for example, which Hawkins won for his role in The League of Gentlemen (1960).

Other classics he starred in included: The Bridge On The River Kwai (1957), Ben-Hur (1959), Lawrence Of Arabia (1962), and Zulu (1964).

While Hawkins played a variety of roles, he was most often cast as a responsible military man or police inspector.

In 1966, the north London native was diagnosed with cancer; subsequently, he had his larynx removed.

Learning to use his diaphragm and stomach muscles to speak, Hawkins could return to reading his lines, albeit they would be brief.

At the time, Hawkins said: “The most I can hope for is to vary the pitch of the sounds.

“The actual croaking quality, I’m afraid, is here to stay. It’s a damned nuisance, but there you are.”

The father-of-four did have an operation to have an artificial voice box inserted in his throat, but it was unsuccessful, The New York Times reported.

Following a month-long stay at St Stephen’s Hospital, Chelsea, Hawkins died.

A spokesperson for the hospital stated Hawkins died from “a secondary haemorrhage, which occurred after an operation to fit an appliance to improve his speaking voice”.

Cancer in the larynx

Cancer Research UK stated that a tumour could grow in the voice box (known as the larynx).

Described as a “rare type of head and neck cancer”, laryngeal cancer can lead to a hoarse voice that persists for three weeks or more.

Other symptoms can include pain or difficulty swallowing, shortness of breath, and weight loss.

“The earlier a cancer is picked up, the easier it is to treat it and the more likely the treatment is to be successful,” Cancer Research UK noted.

“So it is important that you go to your GP as soon as possible if you notice worrying symptoms.”

There are certain risk factors for cancer; some you can change, and others you can not.

Factors you can’t change include being over the age of 40, and having a family history of head and neck cancer.

Risk factors you can minimise exposure to include: smoking, alcohol, and an unhealthy diet.

In fact, around 45 percent of laryngeal cancers in the UK are “linked to not eating enough fruit and vegetables”.

Each person in the UK is encouraged by the NHS to eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables every day.

Jack Hawkins starred in Malta Story, which is broadcasting on Tuesday, October 4 on Film4 at 3.05pm.

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