Michael Douglas reveals his throat cancer is stage four. What does that mean? – latimes.com

Michael Douglas at the Cannes Film festival

Michael Douglas

Michael Douglas’ revelation on the Late Show with David Letterman on Tuesday night that his throat cancer is stage four elicited a gasp from the audience. But what exactly does stage four mean?

As Douglas went on to explain, “You like to be down at stage one,” when the tumor is relatively small and isolated.

But, according to Douglas, doctors said his chances of survival are 80%.That may be because even though stage-four cancer is considered advanced, there are different substages within it, said Dr. Gady Har-El, chairman of Lenox Hill Hospital’s Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery in New York. Douglas’ recovery may depend on the nature of that tumor.

Stage four cancer can be divided into two broad categories. Either the tumor is large (longer than 4 or 5 centimeters, or about 1.5 to 2 inches) and begun extending into neighboring tissues, or the tumor could be relatively small with cells that have managed to spread into the lymph nodes in the neck.

Douglas told Letterman that his cancer hasn’t spread to the rest of his body and was therefore still treatable. Har-El agreed, adding that if the cancer had spread below the neck, the doctors would not have ordered radiation treatments.

“We know he is receiving chemotherapy and radiation, which means they are going for a cure,” Har-El said.

via Michael Douglas reveals his throat cancer is stage four. What does that mean? – latimes.com.

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