Michael Douglas' Cancer: Have Years of Smoking and Drinking Caught Up With Him?

Michael Douglas to undergo eight weeks of chemo and radiation, People reports.

ByNeal Karlinsky and Sheila Marikar
August 16, 2010, 12:45 PM

Aug. 17, 2010 — -- Hollywood icon Michael Douglas' years of smoking and drinking is the probable culprit for his throat cancer diagnosis, according to one doctor who said the "Wall Street" star's condition is likely curable.

"That combination is, unfortunately, a recipe for development of a throat cancer," Dr. Kenneth Hu, co-director of the Head and Neck Institute at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York, told "Good Morning America" today. "I think the fact that he's getting radiation means it's curable."

News of a tumor in Douglas' throat was released Monday. People magazine is reporting that the star known for his gravelly voice will soon undergo eight weeks of chemotherapy and radiation.

"It tells you that it's probably an intermediate stage cancer," said Hu, who is not involved with Douglas' treatment.

The two months of treatment, he said, will likely preserve Douglas' voice box though he may be noticeably more hoarse by the end. More aggressive treatment, he said, such as surgery, carries a much more significant risk of permanently damaging the voice.

Hu said Douglas' will have to stop smoking, if he hasn't already, for the treatment to work properly.

"Smoking probably caused the cancer," he said."But smoking during the radiation makes the radiation less effective."

Representatives for Douglas have confirmed to ABCNews.com that doctors discovered a tumor in the Oscar-winning actor's throat, but declined further comment.

The Oscar-winning actor's spokesperson told People magazine Monday that doctors expect him to "make a full recovery."

"I am very optimistic," Douglas said in a statement.

Douglas has openly struggled with his smoking habit in the past, but it has not been confirmed that his penchant for cigarettes is linked to his diagnosis.

Hu said tobacco infiltrates most of the body, causing tissue to inflame and repeated alcohol use serves to chronically irritate the area. Put together, the two drugs create a breeding ground for cancerous cells to develop.

"Michael Douglas, as recently as four years ago has admitted that he was struggling with his smoking situation," People magazine staff writer Blaine Zuckerman said. "Smoking has been a part of his life."

In 1996 Douglas told ABC News that the 20 years of abuse "needed to be corrected and checked."

Michael Douglas Cancer Diagnosis Comes After Harrowing Year

Douglas' diagnosis comes ahead of the premiere of his latest movie, "Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps," due to open in theaters Sept. 24. It's unclear whether his treatment will affect the promotion of the highly anticipated follow-up to 1987's "Wall Street."

The 65-year-old actor and husband of actress Catherine Zeta-Jones has had a harrowing year.

"I've had a rough year on the personal front," he told the Chicago Sun-Times in June. "It's been pretty well publicized."'

In April, his son, Cameron Douglas, was sentenced to five years in prison on drug charges. In a bid to keep Cameron from a long stint in jail, Douglas hand-wrote an impassioned, five-page letter to Manhattan federal judge Richard Berman, referring to his family's history of drug abuse.

"Dear Judge Berman," he wrote, "I don't want to burden you with a litany of my son, Cameron's rehab history, beginning at 13. He's an adult and responsible for his own life. We do know, however, that genes, family, and peer pressure are all a strong influence on a substance abuser."

Michael Douglas suggested that his family's fame -- he is the son of Kirk Douglas, one of Hollywood's biggest stars in the 1950s and '60s -- could be to blame for his son's dependence on drugs.

"I have some idea of the pressure of finding your own identity with a famous father," he wrote. "I'm not sure I can comprehend it with two generations to deal with."

Douglas told the Sun-Times that when he first became a father, the travel involved with making movies forced him to be away from Cameron. He said he doesn't want to make the same mistake with his children with Zeta-Jones, Dylan, 10 and Carys, 7.

"My priorities have completely changed. My marriage and my families come certainly before my career," he said."I cherish the time with them. I'm picking a lot fewer projects now. It's tough to get me out of the house."

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