We talked to renowned specialist Dr. Ken Altman, a New York ear, nose and throat specialist, and L.A. Oncologist Dr. Paul Song, who answered some of the questions on the causes of this kind of cancer.
"Nine out of 10 people with head and neck cancers are smokers," Dr. Altman said. Dr. Song added, "Even in people who stopped smoking 20 years ago, we still see a fair number of them develop throat cancer."
What are some of the symptoms? Dr. Altman answered, "A cough and hoarseness are the warning lights on the dashboard. Also shortness of breath and difficulty swallowing are all warning signs. If it's going on for 2-4 weeks, it should really be evaluated."
The Douglas camp confirmed he will be undergoing eight weeks of radiation and chemotherapy. Dr. Song suggested that could mean the cancer is in a "more advanced stage." Dr. Altman concurred. "This is a larger cancer that possibly may have been spread to the lymph nodes already."
The actor has said he feels optimistic, and so do some of his friends, including Jane Fonda, who told "Extra" at a New York film premiere Monday, "He's a fighter. He'll lick it I love Michael, he'll be fine."