Dolph Lundgren Reveals Secret 8-Year Cancer Battle

Dolph Lundgren attends the Elton John AIDS Foundation's 31st Annual Academy Awards Viewing Party on March 12, 2023 in West Hollywood, California.
Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Elton John AIDS Foundation

The 65-year-old actor details his ongoing health struggle in a new interview.

Dolph Lundgren is opening up about his health. The 65-year-old action star reveals in a new interview that he has been secretly battling cancer for the last eight years. 

The Swedish actor says that doctors in Los Angeles first found a cancerous tumor in his kidneys in 2015, and that he had monitored them with scans for five years. Then in 2020, a MRI showed more tumors in the same area. He underwent surgery to remove six tumors, and then was told that doctors had found one more tumor in his liver.

"At that point, it started to hit me that this is kind of something serious," he says in a sit-down with Graham Bensinger on In Depth With Graham Bensinger. "They did a scan to prepare for surgery. And the surgeon called me and said, 'No, it's grown now. It's too big. We can't take it out. It's like the size of a small lemon.'"

Lundgren then underwent systemic therapy.

"But then I started getting these side effects where I got diarrhea, and so I lost a lot of weight," the Rocky IV star shares. "And that wasn't very nice for myself, for, you know, my poor fiancée [Emma Krokdal] who suffered through that."

The actor traveled to London in 2021 to begin filming The Expendables 4 and Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom. At the time, he says, he hadn't been hearing much from his doctors in Los Angeles. 

"They never called me or anything," he recalls. "I think now, thinking back, they probably thought, 'Oh, I'm a lost case.'" 

He shares that his doctor "started saying things like, "'You should probably take a break and spend more time with your family and so forth.'"

"So I kind of asked him, 'How long do you think I got left?' I think he said two or three years, but I could tell in his voice that he probably thought it was less," Lundgren admits. 

"I thought it was it for sure," he continues. "You kind of look at your life and go, 'I've had a great life.' I've had a freaking great life. I've lived like five lifetimes in one already with everything I've done."

Amid feeling "depressed," Lundgren admits he went out to get a second opinion. His new oncologist, Dr. Alexandra Drakaki, appeared during the interview via video conference, explaining how she treated his kidney cancer by targeting a mutation that he had which is commonly found in patients with lung cancer. 

"If I'd gone on the other treatment, I had about three or four months left," Lundgren says. "I couldn't believe that that it would be that radical of a difference that within three months, things were shrinking by 20, 30 percent."

Over the course of the next year, Lundgren says that "finally things that shrunk into about 90 percent. Now I'm in the process of taking out the remaining scar tissue of these tumors." 

Lundgren does wonder, he says, whether his use of steroids for about 10 years through the '80s and '90s may have contributed to his cancer. 

"Of course it struck me as it could have had something to do with it," he shares. "I thought about it. Because you always think that you made a mistake in your health." 

Today, Lundgren says he's addressing his cancer battle publicly in an effort to help others.

"This is just the first time I've spoken about it," he says. "So if you can save one person's life who was in my situation then it's worth it, for sure."