George Alagiah has a “tumour site” at the bottom of his back and has spent 18 months in “extreme pain” from bowel cancer.
Opening up on about his eight-year battle with the disease, the BBC newsreader, 66, detailed the results of undergoing more than 100 rounds of chemotherapy after he was first diagnosed with stage-four bowel cancer in 2014.
He returned to presenting duties in 2015, saying at the time he was a “richer person” for his fight.
The cancer returned in 2017 and he underwent further treatment before again returning to work, but in 2020 the news anchor said it had spread to his lungs.
He took a break from work in October 2021 and returned to work in April after months of treatment.
In an interview with The Sunday Telegraph (04.09.22) George said about the tumour site on his back: “It is near my L5 lowest vertebra. I’ve spent a lot of the last 18 months in extreme pain. There have been times when even lying down makes it worse.”
Asked if the cancer has spread to his spine, he said: “I don’t know if it is into my spine. It is very technical so you have to be careful.
“What I have is a tumour that is resting very close to the spine and, as far as doctors can make out, has eroded a bit of a vertebra.
“More importantly, it is sitting very close to the nerve and the aorta. Both of which are significant. That’s the one we are watching.”
George, who has been married for more than 30 years to wife Frances, with whom he shares two sons, said people hate talking about bowel cancer as it is “all about poo and bums”.
He went on: “But I have discomfort all the way from my mouth to my bum. And that becomes acute after three days of chemo. Usually by about a week later it is beginning to be better.”
George uses breathing techniques to calm himself and help deal with the pain caused by the tumour and said he shared his experience of the disease with BBC podcast presenter Dame Deborah James, who died aged 40 following a five-year battle with bowel cancer in June.
He said they once spoke after she came out of an hospital appointment in which she found it had spread to her lungs.
Even though he told her to immediately tell her family, he said she spent half-an-hour on the phone to him.