Throat Cancer Symptoms As Cause of Rolling Stones' Charlie Watts Death Unconfirmed

Charlie Watts, legendary drummer for the Rolling Stones, died at the age of 80 on Sunday.

The cause of his death has not been disclosed although he had withdrawn from the Stones' upcoming U.S. tour, which had been postponed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

At the time, a spokesperson said: "Charlie has had a procedure which was completely successful, but I gather his doctors this week concluded that he now needs proper rest and recuperation."

"With rehearsals starting in a couple of weeks it's very disappointing to say the least, but it's also fair to say no one saw this coming."

But on Sunday, Watts' London publicist Bernard Doherty told the PA Media news agency: "It is with immense sadness that we announce the death of our beloved Charlie Watts.

"He passed away peacefully in a London hospital earlier today surrounded by his family. Charlie was a cherished husband, father and grandfather and also, as a member of the Rolling Stones, one of the greatest drummers of his generation."

While the cause of death is still not clear, there has been an increase in searches regarding the symptoms of throat cancer since Sunday's announcement, according to Google trends.

Watts was diagnosed with the disease in 2004 but went into remission after a course of radiotherapy.

What are the symptoms of throat cancer?

Several cancers affect the head and neck area, including the throat. According to the National Cancer Institute, a cancer in the throat (pharynx) may cause pain when swallowing; pain in the neck or the throat that does not go away; pain or ringing in the ears; or trouble hearing.

Meanwhile, cancers that affect the voice box (larynx) can lead to trouble breathing or speaking; pain when swallowing; or ear pain.

Head and neck cancers account for nearly 4 percent of all cancers in the U.S., and are more than twice as common in men as they are among women.

These cancers are also more frequently diagnosed in people aged over 50 than in younger people.

The use of tobacco products are linked to several head and neck cancers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Meanwhile, the consumption of alcohol is a major risk factor for cancers of the throat, mouth and voice box.

The CDC says you can lower your risk of developing head and neck cancers in several ways. These include:

  • Not smoking, or quitting smoking.
  • Avoiding the use of smokeless tobacco products.
  • Limiting the amount of alcohol that you drink.
  • Visiting the dentist regularly. Dental check-ups can often identify head and neck cancers early, when they are easier to treat.
Charlie Watts of the Rolling Stones
Drummer Charlie Watts of the Rolling Stones during a rehearsal in New York in May 1978. Michael Putland/Getty Images