Patrick Swayze Has Pancreatic Cancer

Doctors say the "Dirty Dancing" star is responding well to treatment.

ByABC News
January 8, 2009, 1:08 AM

March 6, 2008 — -- "Dirty Dancing" star Patrick Swayze has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, but contrary to published reports, his publicist told Wednesday that he is not expected to die from the disease within weeks.

"Patrick has a very limited amount of disease and he appears to be responding well to treatment thus far," Swayze's physician, Dr. George Fisher said in a statement released by the actor's publicist. "All of the reports stating the time frame of his prognosis and his physical side effects are absolutely untrue. We are considerably more optimistic."

"Patrick is continuing his normal schedule during this time, which includes working on upcoming projects," Fisher continued. "The outpouring of support and concern he has already received from the public is deeply appreciated by Patrick and his family."

Early Wednesday, the National Enquirer reported that Swayze had "five weeks to live" and his cancer had "spread to other organs."

Pancreatic cancer has the highest fatality rate of all cancers, according to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. The average life expectancy after diagnosis is between three and six months and only 5 percent of those diagnosed live beyond five years.

Swayze, 55, is best known for his role as dance instructor Johnny Castle in the 1987 movie musical "Dirty Dancing." He earned a Golden Globe nomination for that role and went on to co-star with Demi Moore in 1990's "Ghost," which scored an Oscar nomination for best picture.

He reprised his "Dirty Dancing" claim to fame in 2004 with "Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights." He's set to appear next in the film "Powder Blue" with Jessica Biel, Ray Liotta and Forest Whitaker.

Swayze may also continue work on a cable TV series whose pilot he shot in December. The A&E pilot "The Beast," starring Swayze as an FBI agent, may be picked up and turned into a series by the network. If that happens, Swayze hopes to remain part of the show, his representative told The Associated Press.