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Doctors Fail to Timely Diagnose Michael Douglas’ Cancer


On August 16 Michael Douglas announced that he has stage 4 throat cancer, but the 65-year-old actor didn’t let that get him down. Instead, on his Tuesday night appearance on "The Late Night With David Letterman" show he appeared outright upbeat about his diagnosis and the chemotherapy and radiation treatments that he recently started.

Naturally, Douglas appeared more guant than usual but was remarkably healthy looking despite his condition. Even David Letterman complimented him on his appearance by telling him that "he never looked better". Douglas didn’t mince words, however, as he did candidly express his struggles with the treatments.

Despite Douglas’ upbeat attitude, his wife, actress Catherine Zeta Jones, who has two children with Douglas, isn’t as pleased with the longer time it took to diagnose her husband. In fact, Douglas, according to Jones, sought every option to properly diagnose what he suspected was cancer after he began experiencing severe sore throat pain earlier this summer. He confirmed his wife’s comments on the Letterman Show, adding that he underwent a litany of tests and sought second and third opinions from a variety of doctors. Nevertheless, no one was able to properly diagnose him until one doctor biopsied the tumor on the base of his throat, and, indeed, found stage four cancer.

Thankfully, Douglas’ tumor hasn’t spread to parts beneath his neck and his prognosis also appears promising. However, his experience represents the growing number of people who receive no diagnosis or a wrong diagnosis at times when they are desparately searching for answers.


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  1. Kelly says:
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    Stage IV cancer by definition means that the cancer HAS spread distantly, away from the original tumor site. “Stage IV cancer” and “hasn’t spread to other body parts” together make no sense… I’m a head and neck pathologist, lol!!!!

  2. David Mittleman says:
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    Thanks for pointing that out, Kelly. The sentence really should have said that the cancer has not spread beneath his neck, according to recent news reports. Thanks for reading.


    David Mittleman

  3. Kelly says:
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    I realize you’re pulling information from other news sources… I’ve been reading other articles, and I’m frustrated by a couple of details (or lack of…) Is this laryngeal carcinoma, or esophageal carcinoma? Also, I have seen in some of the other reports “Stage IV”, followed by statements to the effect that most throat cancers are localized. Again though, Stage IV means distant metastasis, as in mets to liver, bone, brain, lung… NOT local. Local mets are Stage III. Anyway, didn’t mean to call you out specifically, but some of the reported facts and speculations aren’t adding up…

  4. Kelly says:
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    Ah, never mind. Apparently he told Letterman the cancer arose on the base of the tongue. Makes more sense now. Technically not “throat” cancer… but explains why the “facts” weren’t adding up for me! Thanks for responding.

  5. Jackie Connelly says:
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    I feel the same as Kelly does and I’m not in the medical field whatsoever. Doesn’t make sense to me. I mean, I’m glad it hasn’t spread so shouldn’t it be a different stage? No wonder why some cancers are hard to fight. They each have their own complexities.

  6. Monica says:
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    My story is at: http://random-thoughts-by-gatinha.blogspot.com
    Please read and feel free to share any similar experiences. Thank you.

  7. Tim says:
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    I shared Kelly’s confusion. I think maybe Michael was told his tumor was a “T4″,meaning it was a large size, and he thought that meant “stage four”?

  8. Kelsea says:
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    Hi! A link to this site has recently been posted to our community at Bleditor.com. Check it out!

  9. pps says:
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    For years, my husband was complaining about back problem and urinary dribbling. He’s been to doctors and been to chiropractor, masseur, and did not fix the problem. He was later diagnosed with indolent NHL when a lump pop out of his collar bone. Only showed up on stage 3 going 4- did not know he’s carrying a basketball size ball in his belly.. too late ..cancer had spread to his kidney, he passed away 3 months later.

    He used holistic treatment and CAAT-amino acid treatment – not a solution or treatment to cancer. One of the holistic person I met told me to go for Chemo, and if any holistic person says their treatment works and kills cancer cells- that it is a bunch of baloney– Holistic only alleviates the pain or side effects of cancer treatment and will never kill cancer cells!

  10. Marlys says:
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    My father was diagnosed with Stage 4 Laryngeal cancer a little over a year ago. He had doctored for 4 years and everyone told him that there was nothing wrong with him. We finally decided to take him to a specialist. Within 5 minutes we were told what was wrong. He had an emergency tracheotomy and a week later ended up having a total larynjectomy, lymph nodes removed and the cartlidge in his neck removed. He received 6 weeks of radiation and told it was all gone. A couple months later it was back. They gave him 6 weeks to 2 months to live with more treatment and he died in less than 2 months. It was horrible to watch him suffer. All I can say is that if you ever have any questions about your health get as many opinions from specialists as you can. Never rely on one doctor’s opinion. Good Luck to Micheal and his family.