Michael Douglas Lied About His Cancer TypeBy: Erika Watts - October 12, 2013
Remember when the news broke about actor Michael Douglas having throat cancer that he said wasn’t caused by smoking, but by oral sex? That was a difficult image to purge from the memory, and as it turns out, Douglas didn’t have throat cancer at all–he had tongue cancer, which he says he lied about to save his career.
Douglas admitted to lying to the public about his cancer type during an interview on Thursday. “This was right before I had to go on a big tour for Wall Street, so we kind of said there’s no way we can cancel the tour and say we don’t feel well,” Douglas told Samuel L. Jackson during a Male Cancer Awareness Week special edition of UK TV’s This Morning.
Douglas said that his decision to lie to the press about the type of cancer he had stemmed from what the surgeon told him could happen to his face as a result of tongue cancer surgery.
“The surgeon said, ‘Let’s just say it’s throat cancer.’ I said ‘OK, you don’t want to say it’s tongue cancer? Why’s that?’ and he said, ‘Well, if you really want to know why, if we do have to have surgery it’s not going to be pretty. You’ll lose part of your jaw and your tongue and all of that stuff.'”
The Wall Street actor believed that his career could be jeopardized if he let it be known that his cancer type could ruin his face, so when he went public about his stage-four cancer in 2010, he took his surgeon’s advice and made throat cancer the official story.
In May of 2013, Douglas opened up on his cancer a little. While he was still going with the throat cancer story at the time, he let it slip that the cancer wasn’t caused by smoking or drinking, but by something else entirely. “Without wanting to get too specific, this particular cancer is caused by HPV [human papillomavirus], which actually comes about from cunnilingus,” Douglas said, which had to horrify his wife Catherine Zeta-Jones, who he is now separated from.
According to the American Cancer Society, the type and severity of Douglas’s cancer only gave him around a 37 percent survival rate for five years. Douglas is doing just fine now and even won a 2013 Emmy for his portrayal of Liberace in HBO’s Behind the Candelabra.