Celine Dior to Return to Vegas Despite Husband’s Illness

In August 2014, superstar Celine Dion announced that she was suspending her Las Vegas show to stay at home and care for her husband/business manager René Angélil. Angélil was suffering from a third bout of throat cancer.

Angélil was originally diagnosed in 1999.  Dion “retired” from singing for two years to be at home with René. In December 2013, it was announced that René’s cancer had returned and that he had undergone successful surgery to treat it.

In June 2014, Angélil stepped down as Celine’s manager when his cancer returned, prompting Celine to decide, once again, to stay home and care for him.

Apparently, things are not going that well for René. Previous radiation therapy has left him partially deaf. He is unable to speak, and must be fed three times a day through a feeding tube.

Despite this, René and sons René-Charles, 14, and twins Eddy and Nelson, 4 want Celine to perform again and have been helping her plan her return to Vegas.

Dion has agreed, telling PEOPLE this week:

“I am scared of losing him, because it’s bad. But I have to show myself, my husband and my kids that I’m strong and we’re okay.”

“René will be in the audience [on opening night]. I promise there will be high, happy notes, but it’s going to be very emotional for me.”

What are the oral complications of cancer treatment?

Cancer patients have a high risk of oral complications for a number of reasons:

  • Chemotherapy and radiation therapy slow or stop the growth of new cells.

    These cancer treatments slow or stop the growth of fast growing cells, such as cancer cells. Normal cells in the lining of the mouth also grow quickly, so anticancer treatment can stop them from growing, too. This slows down the ability of oral tissue to repair itself by making new cells.

  • Radiation therapy may directly damage and break down oral tissue, salivary glands, and bone.
  • Chemotherapy and radiation therapy upset the healthy balance of bacteria in the mouth.

Cancer treatment can cause mouth and throat problems.

Complications of chemotherapy

Oral complications caused by chemotherapy include the following:

  • Inflammation and ulcers of the mucous membranes in the stomach or intestines.
  • Easy bleeding in the mouth.
  • Nerve damage.

Complications of radiation therapy

Oral complications caused by radiation therapy to the head and neck include the following:

  • Fibrosis (growth of fibrous tissue) in the mucous membrane in the mouth.
  • Tooth decay and gum disease.
  • Breakdown of tissue in the area that receives radiation.
  • Breakdown of bone in the area that receives radiation.
  • Fibrosis of muscle in the area that receives radiation.
  • Damage to hearing.

Complications caused by either chemotherapy or radiation therapy

The most common oral complications may be caused by either chemotherapy or radiation therapy. These include the following:

  • Inflamed mucous membranes in the mouth.
  • Infections in the mouth or that travel through the bloodstream. These can reach and affect cells all over the body.
  • Taste changes.
  • Dry mouth (xerostomia)
  • Pain.
  • Changes in dental growth and development in children.
  • Malnutrition (not getting enough of the nutrients the body needs to be healthy) caused by being unable to eat.
  • Dehydration (not getting the amount of water the body needs to be healthy) caused by being unable to drink.
  • Tooth decay and gum disease.

Managing/Preventing Oral Complications During Cancer Treatment

Good dental hygiene may help prevent or decrease complications.
Everyday oral care for cancer patients includes keeping the mouth clean and being gentle with the tissue lining the mouth.

Everyday oral care during chemotherapy and radiation therapy includes the following:

Brushing teeth

  • Brush teeth and gums with a soft-bristle brush 2 to 3 times a day for 2 to 3 minutes. Be sure to brush the area where the teeth meet the gums and to rinse often.
  • Rinse the toothbrush in hot water every 15 to 30 seconds to soften the bristles, if needed.
  • Use a foam brush only if a soft-bristle brush cannot be used. Brush 2 to 3 times a day and use an antibacterial rinse. Rinse often.
  • Let the toothbrush air-dry between brushings.
  • Use a fluoride toothpaste with a mild taste. Flavoring may irritate the mouth, especially mint flavoring.
  • If toothpaste irritates your mouth, brush with a mixture of 1/4 teaspoon of salt added to 1 cup of water.


  • Use a rinse every 2 hours to decrease soreness in the mouth. Dissolve 1/4 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda in 1 quart of water.
  • An antibacterial rinse may be used 2 to 4 times a day for gum disease. Rinse for 1 to 2 minutes.
  • If dry mouth occurs, rinsing may not be enough to clean the teeth after a meal. Brushing and flossing may be needed.


  • Floss gently once a day.

Lip care

  • Use lip care products, such as cream with lanolin, to prevent drying and cracking.

Source: NCI


Michele R. Berman, M.D. was Clinical Director of The Pediatric Center, a private practice on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. from 1988-2000, and was named Outstanding Washington Physician by Washingtonian Magazine in 1999. She was a medical internet pioneer having established one of the first medical practice websites in 1997. Dr. Berman also authored a monthly column for Washington Parent Magazine.

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