Heart singer Ann Wilson postpones tour to undergo cancer treatment. What is preventative chemotherapy?

The 74-year-old told fans she has "much more to sing" and plans to return to the stage in 2025.

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NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - APRIL 28: Ann Wilson of Heart performs on Day 4 of 2024 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival at Fair Grounds Race Course on April 28, 2024 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Astrida Valigorsky/WireImage)
Heart singer Ann Wilson pictured in April 2024 at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. (Photo by Astrida Valigorsky/WireImage)

Ann Wilson, the lead singer of Heart, says the band will be postponing the remaining shows of their North American tour while she undergoes treatment for cancer.

"I recently underwent an operation to remove something that, as it turns out, was cancerous," the 74-year-old said in a statement via social media. “The operation was successful and I’m feeling great, but my doctors are now advising me to undergo a course of preventative chemotherapy and I’ve decided to do it.”

The band previously had 50 shows scheduled throughout the U.S and Canada that featured performances by Journey and Def Leppard.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MARCH 07: Ann Wilson and Nancy Wilson of the band Heart attend the Third Annual Love Rocks NYC Benefit Concert for God's Love We Deliver on March 07, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for God’s Love We Deliver )
Wilson, pictured with her sister and bandmate Nancy Wilson, announced she would be taking the remainder of 2024 off to rest. (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for God’s Love We Deliver )

Wilson said she will be taking the rest of the year off to rest but plans to “be back on stage in 2025.”

“Thank you for all the support,” she said. “This is merely a pause. I’ve much more to sing.”

In May, the band cancelled the European leg of their tour for Wilson to undergo a "time-sensitive but routine procedure" that required six weeks of recovery time.

Wilson is not the only public figure to announce plans to receive preventative chemotherapy. Earlier this year, Kate Middleton made her plans to undergo treatment for an undisclosed form of cancer public.

Unlike traditional chemotherapy, which is used to treat existing cancer, preventative chemotherapy aims to prevent the development or recurrence of cancer in individuals at high risk. Here's what you need to know.

Preventative chemotherapy — also known as chemoprevention or a type of adjuvant therapy — refers to the use of medications, vitamins and supplements to prevent the onset of cancer, particularly in people with a higher risk due to genetic, lifestyle or health history factors.

This approach is multifaceted, according to Oncolink, and can be used as:

  • Primary prevention to avert cancer in healthy individuals

  • Secondary prevention to stop precancerous conditions from escalating

  • Tertiary prevention aimed at preventing new cancers in those who have previously been diagnosed

The Mayo Clinic added preventative chemotherapy can come in the form of pills or an IV and uses drugs to kill off cancer cells before they multiply. It's most beneficial for breast and colon cancer, the Mayo Clinic added.

Saline Drip Hanging On Metal Hook Against Wall In Hospital
Preventative chemotherapy may be recommended for people with a significant risk of developing cancer, such as those with inherited cancer syndromes or a personal or family history of cancer.

This form of chemotherapy is not universally applicable, but is considered in specific contexts where the risk of cancer (or recurrence) is considerable.

According to Cancer.net, chemoprevention is particularly relevant for people with a significant risk of developing cancer, such as those with inherited cancer syndromes or a personal or family history of cancer. It's also a strategy for those who have already battled cancer, aiming to reduce the likelihood of recurrence or the emergence of new cancers.

Chemopreventive drugs, which are distinct from those used to treat active cancer, may include agents like tamoxifen and raloxifene, known for their efficacy in reducing the risk of certain breast cancers. Aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are also recognized for their potential to lower the risk of various cancer types.

OncoLink emphasized the importance of chemoprevention's use based on individual risk factors and the need for agents that are safe, affordable and effective in cancer prevention. The effectiveness and suitability of chemoprevention can vary significantly — meaning it's crucial to have personalized medical advice and consideration of potential side effects versus benefits.

In Canada, chemoprevention strategies are common with breast cancer. The use of Selective Estrogen-Receptor Modulators (SERMs) like tamoxifen are pivotal in breast cancer treatment and prevention, particularly for women at high risk or those with BRCA2 gene mutations. While tamoxifen reduces breast cancer risk, it can increase uterine cancer risk.

Canadian healthcare emphasizes informed discussions between patients and doctors regarding the nuanced benefits and risks of SERMs, aligning with findings from the Canadian Medical Association Journal on cancer prevention strategies.

For more information on preventative chemotherapy and cancer care, organizations like the Canadian Cancer Society offer resources and guidance.

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