Stage 4 Throat Cancer Prognosis: Will Michael Douglas Survive?

Michael Douglas Appearing on "The Late Show Show with David Letterman" Last Night AP



(CBS/AP) Michael Douglas is facing a tough battle, as the actor-turned-cancer-patient undergoes radiation and chemotherapy to treat a tumor at the base of his tongue.

But the 65-year-old Oscar-winning actor is not about to give up.

"It's a fight," Douglas told People. "It really knocks you out." 

Appearing last night on "The Late Show with David Letterman," Douglas revealed that he has advanced, Stage 4 cancer.

"You've never looked better to me, and this proves that you're a tough guy, for God's sakes," the talk-show host said, drawing cheers from the studio audience.

"Let's just say ... I'm pretty lit up right now," Douglas replied.

The actor also talked about his chances for recovery.

"I am head and neck," Douglas said. "I am above the neck, so nothing's gone down, and the expectations are good..."

Experts agree with Douglas's upbeat assessment.

Dr. Robert Haddad, an oncologist at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, who is not involved in Douglas's care, says this kind of cancer generally responds well to the grueling combination of radiation and chemotherapy.

Douglas found out he had throat cancer in early August after experiencing throat and ear pain.

During the months of treatment that lie ahead, Douglas may have to be fed through a tube, as swallowing will be difficult, says Haddad. Many patients develop severe mouth sores and need strong pain medications - even narcotics, like morphine - to get through it. The side effects of radiation can last for months after treatment.

But the smart money is on a full recovery. Douglas's wife, actress Catherine Zeta-Jones, 40, told People that "if there's anything Michael has, it's strength."

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