Michael Douglas has received multiple honors for his acting and director efforts. In the same vein as his father, Kirk Douglas, the actor has garnered international acclaim. However, when the star was diagnosed with a terminal illness, his entire world was turned upside down.
The BAFTA-winning actor began his career in the late 1960s and achieved huge success with the film adaptation of the novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. He also made headlines when he married actress, Catherine Zeta Jones.
On the other hand, Douglas had a difficult battle with what he initially believed was throat cancer, distant from his hectic work schedule and glamorous Hollywood lifestyle.
Despite the severity of his condition, the celebrity said in a candid interview about his health issues that he never expected to die.
“It’s strange, I know, but I never considered dying during the entire course of chemotherapy and radiation,” he added.
“My mother died at the age of 92,” he remarked.
My father recently turned 102 years old. I’ve never given much attention to death or aging.
Speaking to fellow actor Samuel L Jackson, Douglas said his surgeon recommended that he publish a statement confirming that he has throat cancer, but that if surgery was required, his acting career might have ended.
The surgeon cautioned Douglas that he might lose some of his tongue and jaw.
Douglas gave a surprising interview to the Guardian two years after his recovery in which he shared greater insight on his struggle with cancer, specifically the cause.
He told the newspaper that oral intercourse was the “cause” of tongue cancer because the sexually transmitted disease HPV (human papillomavirus) also causes cancer.
Despite his openness in the interview, the star was compelled to clarify his words after a public outpouring of rage.
Later, Douglas’ publicist informed CNN that the actor did not totally blame his cancer on HPV because he also smoked and drank. According to an official statement:
“Michael Douglas never claimed that cunnilingus caused his cancer.” Although specialists in the story acknowledge that oral sex is thought to contribute to some mouth cancers, he did not directly allege that oral sex caused his personal sickness.
Douglas was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer when a “walnut-sized growth” near the base of his tongue was identified. He subsequently began an eight-week intensive treatment of chemotherapy and radiation.
“What a wild ride. That can really wear you out,” he told the Guardian.
“Plus, the amount of chemotherapy I was receiving erased all the good stuff. It made me quite weak.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, just half of patients diagnosed with oral cancer survive five years after their diagnosis. The most common cause of this is a delayed diagnosis.
It’s critical to detect the warning signs and symptoms of tongue cancer, according to Cancer Research UK, because it can develop on both the oral tongue, or the part that sticks out, and the base of the tongue.
The following are some signs of tongue cancer:
a red or white mark on the tongue that persists
recurring throat discomfort
A lump or sore spot on the tongue that won’t go away
difficulties swallowing persistent mouth numbness
Unreported bleeding from the tongue (not due to tongue-biting or other trauma)
There is some ear ache.
Douglas is correct in stating that HPV can harm the mouth and throat, perhaps leading to oropharyngeal cancer (cancers of the tonsils and base of the tongue).
However, it typically takes years for someone to develop cancer after catching HPV, and other risk factors such as smoking or chewing tobacco also play a significant role in the disease’s progression.
Chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery are the three main types of treatment for tongue cancer, and they can be used in combination or separately. The course of treatment is determined by the amount of a person’s cancer and whether it has spread. The injured area of the tongue must also be taken into account.
Douglas had advanced malignancy, defined by tumors that had migrated to other organs or lymph nodes or were larger than 4 cm in diameter. At current time, the most common treatments are:
Chemoradiotherapy, a combination of chemotherapy and radiotherapy, will be administered to your throat and neck.
You may receive radiotherapy or chemoradiotherapy after surgery to remove some of the lymph nodes in your neck and a section of your throat (including all or part of your tongue).