Update on Michael Douglas: Throat Cancer is Stage Four
Actor Michael Douglas appeared on CBS’ “Late Show with David Letterman” last night with an updated announcement about his throat cancer diagnosis. Unfortunately, the actor was diagnosed with Stage 4 Cancer, with the original tumor being about the size of a walnut.
Throat Cancer a Result of Smoking and Drinking, says Actor
A diagnosis of stage 4 throat cancer indicates that the cancer has spread to tissues around the lips and mouth, to lymph nodes, or that any lymph node containing the cancer is larger than six centimeters. Douglas says that the cancer is not metastatic, meaning it has not spread to other parts of his body.
The 65-year-old actor, however, remains optimistic during treatments he describes as “intense”. He has just finished his first week of treatments which include radiation five days a week for eight weeks in addition to chemotherapy every three weeks.
“I’m treating this as a curable disease,” Douglas said in a recent People magazine interview. “I will do everything I can…It’s a fight. I’ll beat this.”
According to the National Cancer Institute, about 25,000 new cases of throat cancer (including both laryngeal and pharyngeal cancers) are diagnosed each year. Most throat cancers are squamous cell carcinomas, which are usually slow growing but often difficult to distinguish from normal cells.
People who smoke or use other forms of tobacco are at the greatest risk of developing throat cancer. Excessive alcohol use also increases the risk. Douglas admits that both of these factors likely contributed to his own cancer diagnosis.
Men are about 10 times more likely than women to develop throat cancers and they usually develop in adults older than 50.
Possibly complications of Mr. Douglas’ treatment include difficulty swallowing and loss of voice. He may need to receive tube feedings to maintain his nutritional status if he is unable to consume foods orally. About 5% of throat cancer patients lose the ability to swallow, according to the National Institutes of Health.