Van Halen Says He's Cancer-Free

updated 05/09/2002 at 12:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/09/2002 11:39AM

Just as he did to announce last year that he had cancer, rocker Eddie Van Halen, 47, took to his band's Web site to announce that he is now free of the disease, which afflicted his tongue, the Associated Press reported Thursday. The news service said that he had tongue cancer. "I wanted to let you all know that I've just gotten a 100 percent clean bill of health -- from head to toe," the guitarist states on the Van Halen Web site. "I wanted to share the good news with you immediately. And of course, I thank you all for all your good wishes and prayers along the way. Now it's time to really get back to the music and fun . . . so party on and you'll be hearing from us very soon." No specific future plans were announced. As PEOPLE.com reported in April 2001, the Dutch-born musician, 44, co-founder of the rock band that bears his name and a self-professed longtime smoker and reformed alcoholic, announced on his Web site that he was being treated for an unspecified type of cancer. He also apologized for what had been his longtime silence on the subject, calling it "a very unique and private matter." In May of 2000, amid a swirl of rumors surrounding Van Halen, the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston had issued a vague statement saying that the musician planned "to begin an outpatient clinical trial to prevent cancer." After that, there were no updates until Van Halen's April 2001 posting, in which he said, "I was examined by three oncologists and three head-and-neck surgeons at Cedars Sinai (Medical Center in Los Angeles) just before spring break, and I was told that I'm healthier than ever and beating cancer." Van Halen co-founded his band in 1974 with his older brother, Alex, on drums, bass player Michael Anthony and singer David Lee Roth. He and his wife of 21 years, actress Valerie Bertinelli, 42, have a son, Wolfgang, 11.

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