Country music superstar Toby Keith lost 2-year battle with stomach cancer

Associated Press

Francine Frazier, Senior web producer

Published: February 6, 2024, 8:54 AMTags: Toby Keith, Celebrity Death, Entertainment, Health

Toby Keith exploded onto the country music scene in the 1990s. “Should’ve Been a Cowboy,” his breakout hit, was played 3 million times on radio stations, making it the most-played country song of the 90s.

He was also known for bar room anthems like “Red Solo Cup” and his overt patriotism with songs like “Courtesy of the Red White and Blue.”

Keith, who was battling stomach cancer, passed peacefully on Monday surrounded by his family, according to a statement posted on the country singer’s website. He was 62.

RELATED: Country singer-songwriter Toby Keith has died after battling stomach cancer

“He fought his fight with grace and courage,” the statement said. He announced his diagnosis in June 2022 after he’d already been battling the disease for six months with chemo, radiation and surgery.

The signs and symptoms of stomach cancer, also known as gastric cancer, are very vague, said Dr. Husain Abbas, a bariatric and general surgeon with HCA Memorial Hospital.

“So things like the feeling of fullness, losing weight and not knowing why, having nausea, vomiting or having long-standing burning sensation, for example, in the upper part of your abdomen or having reflux for a prolonged period of time — those could be warning signs that something is going on within either your esophagus or your stomach actually,” he said.

Abbas said that while stomach cancer is not very common, it is fairly deadly.

“Smokers have higher incidences of gastric cancer. People who consume too much alcohol have a higher incidence of gastric cancer,” Abbas said.

He also said some preservatives used in the Far East and a person’s genetics can be factors in stomach cancer.

“So while the genetics are not something that you can control, definitely your food, your diet, your healthy activities are definitely things that you can modulate and change to try and decrease your chance of gastric cancer,” Abbas said.

Abbas said that stomach cancer that’s not caught early has a “very poor” survivability rate.

“So even though you removed all the cancer, the chances of that tumor going distant as in going into the liver or showing up a couple of years or a year later, or nine months later into the lungs, into the liver, it’s pretty high,” Abbas said. “So, in that case, you know, survivability or a complete cure is fairly, fairly low, especially at about the five-year mark.”

But there are ways to lower your risk, he said.

No. 1 is to increase the fruits and vegetables in your diet and avoid smoking in any form.

“Watch your weight and stay in an active, healthy life,” Abbas said. “Avoid high fatty meals. All of these have actually been shown to potentially increase your risk of gastric cancer.”

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