Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh announces lung cancer diagnosis on air

Rush Limbaugh gives an introductory speech before US President Donald Trump's remarks at the Turning Point USA Student Action Summit. (Reuters)

Conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh announced on Monday that he has been diagnosed with “advanced lung cancer” but plans to continue to do his program “as normally and as competently” as he can while he undergoes treatment.

Limbaugh, 69, said on the air he first realized something was wrong over the weekend of his January 12 birthday, after he began experiencing shortness of breath. He said his diagnosis was confirmed on January 20 by two medical institutions.

Otherwise, Limbaugh told his listeners, he was for the moment “experiencing zero symptoms.”

A mainstay of US talk radio and the culture wars for more than 30 years, Limbaugh said he would be absent from the broadcast for “the next couple of days as we figure out the treatment course of action and have further testing done.”

“But as I said, I’m going to be here as often as I can,” he added. He said he hoped to return to the airwaves on Thursday.

The radio host began his announcement expressing discomfort at talking about himself, then went on to say: “I have to tell you something today that I wish I didn’t have to tell you.”

“The upshot is that I have been diagnosed with advanced lung cancer,” he said. The shortness of breath he had thought might have been asthma turned out, he said, to be “a pulmonary problem involving malignancy.” He made no mention of a prognosis.

Limbaugh has been a leading voice of the political right and a nemesis of the left since launching his show in 1985 amid the Republican revolution of Ronald Reagan, a man he has called “the greatest president of the 20th century.”

Espousing a provocative, populist brand of social and political conservatism, Limbaugh has commanded a weekly audience of about 20 million listeners - he calls them “ditto heads” - during a three-hour daily broadcast airing on some 600 radio stations across the United States.

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