What type of cancer does Max have on New Amsterdam?

Ryan Eggold from New Amsterdam
Ryan Eggold plays Max on New Amsterdam. Pic credit: Francisco Roman/NBC

Dr. Max Goodwin has cancer. Goodwin, played by Ryan Eggold, learned about the news from Dr. Helene Sharpe, a character played by Freema Agyeman. She tells him that Max has squamous cell carcinoma, which is also known as throat cancer.

Throat cancer or squamous cell carcinoma of the tonsil falls under the category of head and neck. This type of cancer is rather uncommon and it usually occurs in aging humans. It also tends to happen more in males than in females.

Interestingly, throat cancer is often linked to alcohol consumption and tobacco smoking. The more you smoke, the higher the risk.

And this kind of cancer spreads, including to the soft palate of the mouth and throat tissues in the neck, head, mouth, and throat.


Dr. Sharpe would have learned about Max’s cancer by running tests on his liver functions. If the cancer is advanced, his liver functions may be abnormal or show anemia.

The symptoms of this kind of cancer include a change in the voice, difficulty swallowing, a persistent sore throat, lumps in the neck, ear pain, coughing, and breathing problems. Weight loss that can’t be explained can also be a symptom that something isn’t right.

On New Amsterdam, Max talks to Dr. Sharpe about his options and she suggests chemotherapy, starting in just three weeks. This is an option for treatment, but surgery and various kinds of minimally invasive procedures are also available now.

The character of Dr. Max Goodwin is based on Dr. Eric Manheimer, a doctor who used to work at Bellevue. New Amsterdam is based on his 2012 memoir, Twelve Patients: Life and Death at Bellevue Hospital.

During an interview with TV Insider, Dr. Manheimer opens up about his throat cancer, the same kind of cancer that Eggold’s character has.

“It’s becoming a much more common cancer. It has to be aggressively treated and the treatments are virtually the same wherever you go,” he explained during the interview.

“You want to go to a place where you have a sympathetic team of radiation therapists, surgeons, and oncologists who work together well. And make sure they communicate well with you and your family.’

Dr. Manheimer is currently a clinical professor at New York University.

Now, that may serve as a spoiler for those watching New Amsterdam. Max Goodwin won’t die from cancer, as Dr. Manheimer is currently alive and well.

However, the real-life struggle will play a role, as the first season will mirror Dr. Manheimer’s daily routine that consisted of him getting chemo in the morning, working all day, and getting radiation at night. He would eventually collapse.

Dr. Manheimer currently serves as one of the writers and producers on New Amsterdam, offering his opinions and takes on a lot of the medical issues they featured on the show.

In the interview with TV Insider, he also explained how he and Ryan Eggold had many conversations about handling the cancer issue on the show.

New Amsterdam airs Tuesdays at 10/9c on NBC.

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