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Larry King reveals he had surgery for lung cancer: 'I never thought it would happen to me'

Larry King has revealed that he underwent surgery for lung cancer in July. (Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times)
Larry King has revealed that he underwent surgery for lung cancer in July. (Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times)

Though he hasn't smoked in 30 years, Larry King was reminded of the all-too-real consequences of tobacco use earlier this summer.

The octogenarian interviewer underwent surgery for lung cancer in July, he revealed to People in a story published Wednesday. 

"They said I was lucky and smart to get annual chest X-rays because lung cancer doesn’t give you any signs until it’s in late stages,” King said. “And by then it’s too late."

King's Stage 1 cancerous mass appeared in X-rays as a cloud on his lung. Doctors removed the malignancy through a surgical procedure that went in through his ribs, and after a week of recovery, King was back to work on the sixth season of  "Larry King Now."

The legendary broadcaster, 83, opted to be transparent with his latest health scare as a way to raise awareness.

“When I had my heart attack and was diagnosed with type-2 diabetes [in 1987] and prostate cancer [in 1999,] I talked about it and felt that I helped a lot of people,” King said. “I want people to make sure to get annual X-rays."

King's doctors attributed his lung cancer to his years of smoking three packs a day, despite stopping after his heart attack. 

"I never thought it would happen to me. I saw all the warnings, but I never paid attention. I loved smoking, but when I had the heart attack that February of 1987, I stopped that day and never reached for one again,” he said. “It was easy for me because I got scared to death."

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