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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Michael Douglas recent diagnosis of throat cancer

The diagnosis of throat cancer in Michael (mike) Douglas is very sad news. The potential of losing his voice will be devastating to him as an actor. I wish him success in combating his illness. He is one of my favorite actors and I would like to see him continue his career.

From my own personal experiences I can imagine how devastating it was for Mike to learn about the diagnosis of throat cancer. This has ramifications on his ability to continue to act and his family. Face ones own mortality and the potential of losing ones voice are very difficult. Many people would like to keep their illness private as I did. However, as a celebrity this impossible. Hopefully the public’s support that he may receive will help him overcome the difficult period of radiation and chemotherapy that lies ahead.

As a celebrity whose career depends on his voice, Mike Douglas is facing difficult choices about what is the best treatment for him. I am wondering if the non surgical option that was offered to him was an attempt to spare his larynx. I hope that this treatment will work for him. To hear Mike Douglas describe his condition watch his interview with David Letterman on the Tonight Show.

As sad as this news is, it is an opportunity to remind everyone about the importance of avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol consumption. Unfortunately Michael Douglas had done booth.

It is also an opportunity to remind the public about the early signs of throat cancer so that it can be detected at an early stage. These include: sputum may appear bloody, lump may appear on the outside of the neck, abnormal-sounding breathing, chronic cough, neck pain or swelling, difficulty swallowing, persistent throat or ear pain and hoarseness. Individuals with these symptoms should be examined by their otolaryngologists as soon as possible.

After months of radiation and chemotherapy for late-stage throat cancer, actor Michael Douglas announced on January 11, 2011 on an NBC Today Show that he is tumor-free. No trace of the stage 4, walnut-size tumor at the base of his tongue could be detected on medical imaging, according to Douglas which is a sign complete response to treatment. He discussed the radiation side effects that he suffered that included weight loss and reduction of saliva production.
However, even in the absence of detectable disease, there is at risk for recurrence and prognosis depends significantly on the biology of the tumor. The risk of recurrence is the highest in the first 2 years after diagnosis and treatment. Regular follow up examinations that includes CT and PET scans are very important in ensuring early detection of cancer recurrence.
Tongue-base cancers that are caused by human papillomavirus (HPV) infection have generally excellent cure rates with a five-year survival ranging 70-80%. It is, however, It is unclear whether Douglas' cancer was positive for HPV.