Ronnie James Dio Dies at 67 After Battle with Stomach Cancer

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Ronnie James Dio, a heavy metal musician famous for singing for bands such as Rainbow, Black Sabbath, and his own self-named band “Dio”, has died at the age of 67 due to stomach cancer. According to his wife, Wendy, he had recently undergone his seventh chemotherapy treatment and was hoping to perform with his new band, Heaven and Hell.

Ronnie Dio revealed last summer that he was suffering from stomach cancer, also called gastric cancer. Stomach cancer rates in the United States are declining, but are extremely common in Japan, Chile and Iceland. According to the National Cancer Institute there were 21,130 new cases in the US in 2009 with 10,620 deaths.

The most common type of stomach cancer is called adenocarcinoma, which starts from one of the cells in the lining of the stomach. It occurs most frequently in men over 40 years old. Risk factors for developing the disease include a family history of gastric cancer, Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) infection, blood type A, smoking, and a history of chronic atrophic gastritis. There is also a strong correlation between a diet high in smoked, salted and pickled foods and stomach cancer.

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Symptoms of gastric cancer include abdominal pain, dark stools, difficulty swallowing that increases over time, nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite with unintentional weight loss, and weakness and fatigue. Unfortunately, many diagnoses are delayed because patients self-treat the symptoms, such as taking antacids for heartburn or intestinal gas.

Tumors in the lower stomach are more often cured than those in the upper gastric areas, including the gatric cardia or gastroesophageal junction. The depth of the tumor and whether or not lymph nodes are involved also influence the chance of a cure.

Surgery to remove the stomach, called a gastrectomy, is the only curative treatment, but chemotherapy and radiation are also used to improve the chances of a cure. For those who are not candidates for gastrectomy, chemo and radiation can improve symptoms and prolong survival, but will not likely cure the cancer.

Ronnie James Dio died at 7:45 a.m. on Sunday, May 16, 2010. His wife states that “Many, many friends and family were able to say their private goodbyes before he peacefully passed away.” In addition to his wife, he is survived by son Daniel, grandchildren Julie and Joey, and father Pat.

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