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Douglas reveals desperate fight to beat throat cancer

Michael Douglas has revealed he is fighting the most advanced stage of cancer, but said he felt optimistic about making a full recovery.

The veteran actor drew gasps when he told a television audience he had stage- four throat cancer.

The 65-year-old Wall Street star told TV talk-show host David Letterman that a biopsy indicated that his cancer was "intense, and so they've got to go at it ..."

Letterman asked whether stage four was a good diagnosis.

"Um no," Douglas replied. "No, you like to be down at stage 1 . . . but it has not . . . the big thing you're always worried about is it spreading . . . and the expectations are good ."

Stage four cancer has spread far beyond the original tumour and is usually impossible to cure. "The percentages are very good," Douglas added. "I would hate to say, but right now, it looks like it should be 80pc, and with certain hospitals and everything, it does improve."

Patients with stage-four head and neck caner usually undergo surgery, radiation and chemotherapy.

Letterman said he was surprised after Douglas said he had just finished his first week of radiation and chemotherapy.


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

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

The disease was diagnosed three weeks ago, he said, although he had complained of a very sore throat earlier this year and had undergone testing that failed to find a cause. He expressed frustration with the doctors who could not find anything, "because I was on it early in the summer and started complaining about something, but they couldn't see it then."

Douglas, who has two children Dylan (10), and Carys (7), with Zeta-Jones, said he enjoyed the summer travelling with his family before returning to the doctor.

A biopsy found he had late, stage-four cancer. But, Douglas said, the cancer remained above the neck and that meant expectations were good .

Asked by Letterman about his personal habits, he said he had smoked and drank.

According to a National Institutes of Health website, use of tobacco or alcohol are among the factors that put people at risk of developing throat cancer.