Michael Douglas’s recent announcement that he was diagnosed with Stage 4 oral throat cancer shocked many of his fans. Many were surprised again, when Michael Douglas appeared on David Letterman’s show with an apparent upbeat and optimistic attitude and opened up about his throat cancer just days after beginning his treatment. Given his serious diagnosis, how likely are his chances for survival?
Michael Douglas’s oral throat cancer may have been caused by his use of alcohol and cigarettes, which is a leading risk factor in the development of throat cancer. On the Letterman show, Douglas admitted that the use of these substances probably caused his cancer. According to the oral cancer foundation, oral throat cancer found in the later stages, such as Michael Douglas’s, has a 45% mortality rate at five years past the diagnosis. Although Douglas voiced that he had an 80% chance of survival, according to this statistic, his real prognosis may be much lower.
In many cases of throat cancer, surgery is the first treatment undergone by the patient. Michael Douglas has stated that he is beginning his treatment with chemotherapy and radiation. Since throat cancer surgery can, in some cases, alter the sound of one’s voice, is Michael Douglas not having surgery to prevent this? Michael Douglas’s trademark deep, husky voice is one of his most recognizable attributes, and he may not be interested in the risk of altering it. Surgery, however, is not used in all cases and Michael Douglas may simply be following his doctor’s views on the best course for his treatment.
Given the late stage diagnosis of Michael Douglas’s throat cancer, why wasn’t it found earlier? Catherine Zeta Jones, Michael Douglas’s wife, has voiced publicly her disappointment with doctors that did not find his throat cancer earlier, and according to the oral cancer foundation, late discovery of throat cancer is not due to the difficultly of diagnosing it. Michael Douglas had also been showing symptoms; he had been suffering from ear and throat pain and soreness. It is unknown why Michael Douglas’s throat cancer was not diagnosed sooner in his quest for treatment.
Will Michael Douglas survive throat cancer? There is no definite way to know, but given Michael Douglas’s attitude on David Letterman’s show, he is going to fight as hard as he is able. Although studies confirming the link between positive outlook and survival of cancer are difficult to locate, many patients attribute their cancer survival to their optimistic attitude and willingness to fight the disease. Michael Douglas, given his many portrayals of strong characters, appears to have plenty of fight in him!
The Oral Cancer Foundation http://oralcancerfoundation.org/
Throat Cancer http://www.mayoclinic.org/throat-cancer/treatment.html