KSAT-TV San Antonio reports Tom originally underwent chemotherapy and radiation for tongue-base cancer five years ago, but it came back and extended into his voice box. Hamilton's only option became a radical surgery procedure that could have left his voice and breathing passage permanently damaged. "I was just terrified," said Tom. "I really thought, 'Oh, I am looking at not being able to talk.'"
The bassist connected with Dr. Steven Zeitels at Massachusetts General Hospital, who has treated vocal cord cancer with the green-light KTP laser, so Hamilton agreed to be the first person treated that way for tongue base cancer. "This is not your classic way, or even traditional way, to try and remove a cancer from the tongue base," Zeitels said.
The laser emits a green light, which is concentrated in the extra blood running through the cancer. "Where there is a lot of cancer, there will be a lot of blood," explained Zeitels. "Where there is a lot of blood, there will be a lot of combustion so that you are actually watching the tissues burn completely different"
A major advantage of the laser is that it can be done repeatedly as new benign or malignant lesions are found.
Hamilton literally breathed easier when he came out of surgery. "The second I had a tiny bit of consciousness,” he said, “the first thing I did was make a sound, and it felt normal, and it sounded normal.”
Aerosmith continue spending their summer in the studio working a new album before hitting the road this fall for shows in Mexico, South America and Japan.