Roger Ebert succumbs to thyroid, salivary cancer

Renowned film critic Roger Ebert has died following a recurrence of his thyroid and salivary gland cancers.

Ebert, 70, died on April 4 in Chicago, according to the Chicago Sun-Times, the newspaper where he reviewed movies for 46 years. He had battled cancer for much of the past decade.

Ebert blogged earlier in the week that he had a recurrence of cancer and would be taking a "leave of presence."

Ebert was originally diagnosed with papillary thyroid cancer in 2002 and had the malignant gland removed. But the cancer spread to his salivary glands and then to his jaw. After undergoing surgery to remove much of his mandible followed by radiation therapy, Ebert suffered further complications. He eventually required a tracheostomy and completely lost his voice and the ability to eat.

In 2011, Ebert unveiled a new prosthetic jaw crafted for him by a maxillofacial prosthodontist on his TV show. He had reviewed movies on TV for 31 years, including a long and popular stint with Chicago Tribune movie critic Gene Siskel.

Ebert reviewed as many as 285 movies a year and scheduled his cancer surgeries around the release of movies he wanted to review, according to the Sun-Times. He also wrote many books and political columns, and he became the first film critic to win the Pulitzer Prize in 1975.

Publicity over actor Michael Douglas' oropharyngeal cancer and Ebert's papillary thyroid cancer has highlighted the growing incidence of oral cancer, especially among younger nonsmokers.

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