Experimental treatments have given Aerosmith bassist Tom Hamilton the upper hand in his ongoing battle against cancer, clearing him to play shows with the band this fall in Mexico and South America.

It’s been five years since Hamilton underwent initial surgery to address tongue base cancer, but it later returned and spread to his voice box. At that point, radical surgery was suggested, that had a possible side effect which might leave his voice and breathing passage with permanent damage.

Hamilton says he was “terrified” at the thought that he might be unable to talk after the surgery. So when Dr. Steven Zeitels suggested an experimental laser procedure that had been previously used on cancerous vocal cords to try to address the issue, Hamilton was game for the gamble.

Not everyone is a candidate for the surgery, but luckily, the veteran Aerosmith bassist fit the necessary requirements. After the surgery, he immediately tested his instrument: "The second I had a tiny bit of consciousness, the first thing I did was make a sound, and it felt normal, and it sounded normal."

While he’s in the clear presently, the laser surgery offers a major advantage, because it can be repeated as necessary if new instances of the cancer are discovered. For now, Hamilton is feeling very grateful to his doctor for saving both his voice and his life.

He's currently in the studio with Aerosmith working on a new studio album with producer Jack Douglas, who Hamilton says is someone who knows how to harness the "creative heart of the band."

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