Bryant Gumbel Announces Lung Cancer Surgery


Bryant Gumbel, host of HBO’s “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel,” announced on “Live! With Regis & Kelly” on December 8 that he had lung cancer surgery two months ago to remove a malignant tumor and part of his lung. Gumbel required some follow-up treatment after the surgery to treat aggressive lung cancer cells that had extended beyond the tumor.

The sixty-one-year-old Gumbel, who is a cigar smoker, said on “Live! With Regis & Kelly” that during the surgery his doctors removed “a malignant tumor, part of my lung and some other goodies.” Both he and his doctors are hoping that his treatment is complete.

The National Cancer Institute notes that cigar smoke, like cigarette smoke, contains many toxic and cancer-causing chemicals. In fact, cigar smoke may be more toxic than cigarette smoke because it contains a higher level of cancer-causing elements called nitrosamines. Cigars also contain more cancer-causing tar than cigarettes, and the paper used to wrap cigars is less porous than cigarette wrappers, which means compared with cigarette smoke, the concentration of toxins are higher in cigar smoke.


Cigars also tend to be larger than cigarettes, thus they contain more tobacco and result in smokers spending a longer time smoking. Thus cigar smokers are exposed to higher amounts of toxins, such as hydrocarbons, ammonia, cadmium, carbon monoxide, and others.

Cigar smokers tend not to inhale, which leads many to think that they have a much less chance of developing cancer. Although it is true that cigar smokers have a lower rate of lung cancer than cigarette smokers, cigar smoking can cause cancers of the oral cavity (lip, tongue, mouth, throat), larynx, and esophagus. The rates of oral cavity and esophageal cancer are similar for cigar and cigarette smokers.

Bryant Gumbel is not the first television news/sports personality to have lung cancer. Peter Jennings, a long-time ABC anchor, died August 8, 2005, at age 67 of the disease. Certainly everyone is hoping that the former “Today” host and current “Real Sports” host will fully recover. As for Mr. Gumbel, he noted on the “Live!” show that he is waiting to return to the golf course soon.

CNN, Dec. 8, 2009
National Cancer Institute