What Kind of Cancer Did David Bowie Have?

david bowie cancer

The beloved singer and artistic genius, David Bowie, died of cancer. What type of cancer did he have? (Getty)

Beloved singer and musical genius David Bowie has died of cancer. But what type of cancer did he have?

Here’s what we know so far.


A Friend Said Bowie Had Liver Cancer, but His Family Has Not Confirmed This

Bowie had been fighting cancer for 18 months. A friend of Bowie’s, Ivo van Hove, said the rock icon had liver cancer, according to DutchNews.nl. Bowie’s family has not confirmed this information. Van Hove is a Belgian theater director who was a close friend to Bowie and worked with him on his last stage musical, Lazarus. He was one of the few people who knew about Bowie’s illness and was with Bowie at the Lazarus premiere in New York, one of Bowie’s last public appearances.

“When I got into the car, I knew it might be the last time I saw him,” Van Hove told Dutch radio station NPO Radio 4 about the premiere. You can read the entire interview with Van Hove, in which he talks about Bowie’s cancer struggles, at this link. The article is not in English, but you can translate it with Google Translate. Audio of Van Hove’s interview is also in the article.

There are different types of liver cancer, the most common being hepatocellular carcinoma. In addition, other types of cancer may spread to the liver, but they aren’t considered liver cancer. Rather, they are called metastatic cancer, according to Mayo Clinic. Liver cancer often doesn’t have any symptoms when it’s in the early stages. Once symptoms do occur, they can include weight loss, upper abdominal pain, general weakness, and yellowing of the skin and eyes.


Bowie’s Health Struggles Were Kept Private

david bowie LA times cover

The January 10 LA Times cover about David Bowie, just before he died. (Imgur)

Bowie had not shared his cancer struggle publicly and only a select few people knew about it. In fact, fans were so shocked by the news of his death when it was first announced on his website that many thought his site had been hacked and the whole thing was a hoax.

Some people suspected, however. Rumors of poor health had been circulating for years ever since he stopped touring after a medical emergency in 2004. In October 2015, it was officially announced that he was retired from touring, Billboard reported. John Giddings,

Wendy Leigh, who published a biography about Bowie, had commented that someone close to Bowie said he had six heart attacks in recent years, The Daily Mail reported. However, this information has not been confirmed. About a week ago, Bowie sent friend and collaborator Brian Eno an email that read: “Thank you for our good times, Brian, they will never rot.”

His public appearances had been fewer and fewer. He made a rare public appearance on December 12, The Mirror reported, in order to watch his off-Broadway musical “Lazarus” in New York, based on his song of the same name. He looked thin, but tan and happy. No one guessed that he was struggling with cancer at the time of  his appearance. He had just released a new album on his birthday, making it appear that his career was still going strong.

In fact, on Sunday, January 10, the cover of the LA Times read: “A New Day for Bowie.” A Redditor shared a photo of the cover (seen above) on Imgur.


Fans Think Bowie Used His Last Song and Video, ‘Lazarus,’ to Say Goodbye

David Bowie’s last music video, “Lazarus” (above), also seemed prescient about his death.

The video and the song — which included lyrics like “Look up here, I’m in heaven” — seemed to serve as Bowie’s farewell to his fans and loved ones. Producer Tony Visconti, who worked with Bowie on the final album, Blackstar, wrote on his Facebook page that it was Bowie’s “parting gift”:

He always did what he wanted to do. And he wanted to do it his way and he wanted to do it the best way. His death was no different from his life – a work of Art. He made Blackstar for us, his parting gift. I knew for a year this was the way it would be. I wasn’t, however, prepared for it. He was an extraordinary man, full of love and life. He will always be with us. For now, it is appropriate to cry.

To read more about David Bowie, please see these stories:

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