Michael Douglas, 72, battled throat cancer in 2010. During a Q&A with Jonathan Ross, media personality of the UK’s Jonathan Ross show, he revealed that his friend, Val Kilmer, who is 57, is currently fighting the same cancer.
Douglas stated, “Val was a wonderful guy who is dealing with exactly what I had, and things don’t look too good for him.” “My prayers are with him. That’s why you haven’t heard too much from Val lately.”
Although sources have not been able to confirm, fans have been concerned since early 2015 when Val Kilmer was allegedly hospitalized for a “bleeding of his throat”. His rep released a statement saying the actor was being evaluated for a “possible tumor”, but later that month Val Kilmer denied the rep’s statement and told fans on Facebook he had a complication for which he was being treated.
In late 2015 the actor was seen with a tracheostomy tube. These tubes are placed after a tracheotomy, an opening of the windpipe to allow air to get through the lungs, bypassing the throat. The tube was removed and a month later Val Kilmer posted a picture on Facebook, smiling and looking well. Again he denied having cancer.
Michael Douglas’s statement regarding his friend brings the spotlight back on one of the scariest forms of cancer yet. Although not common, The National Cancer Institute estimates 1.1 percent of adults will be diagnosed with pharyngeal cancer within their lifetime. Throat cancer can involve the base of the tongue, the nasopharyx (connecting to the back of the nose), the oropharynx (throat), the tonsils, and/or the larynx (voice box). It is often diagnosed in its later stages since early symptoms mimic common medical complaints such as sore throat, hoarseness or a continual need to clear one’s throat. These symptoms, if not resolving, should be evaluated for throat cancer as well as any weight loss, swollen lymph nodes, inability to swallow, and/or a change in voice.
Smoking, alcohol, and HPV infection have been linked to causing throat cancer. The earlier its diagnosed, the better the prognosis. It can be treated with surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. Michael Douglas states he he was treated with chemo and radiation and by 2011 was in remission. He was very fortunate and early intervention is key.
Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network and Board Certified Family Physician