Catherine Zeta Jones furious at doctors who missed Michael Douglas’ cancer

Outlets have some quotes from Catherine Zeta Jones and Michael Douglas’ cover story interview in People this week. A lot of them are focusing on how angry Catherine Zeta Jones says she is that it took so long for doctors to diagnose her husband’s throat cancer, which is now at stage 4. A “walnut-sized” tumor was found under his tongue and he’s gone through a week of chemotherapy and radiation so far to treat it. Douglas said on Letterman that his cancer has not spread beyond his head and neck, and that his prognosis is at least 80% or better. He admitted that it took weeks and many doctors to find out the problem and that “I actually went through a litany of doctors and tests and they didn’t find anything.” Zeta Jones says in People that she’s “furious they didn’t detect it earlier


Catherine Zeta-Jones has revealed her anger at doctors who failed to spot her husband’s cancer.

She said Michael Douglas had complained repeatedly about ear and throat pain but it was not until three weeks ago that a walnut-size tumour was discovered under his tongue.

‘It makes me furious they didn’t detect it earlier,’ Miss Zeta-Jones said. ‘He sought every option and nothing was found.’

The actress, who has been married to 65-year-old Douglas for ten years, admitted she wasn’t that surprised when throat cancer was finally diagnosed.
‘It wasn’t a huge shock,’ she said in a magazine interview. ‘I knew something was up. He knew something was up.’

While his wife was furious about the late diagnosis, Douglas was more understanding.

‘These things sometimes just don’t show up,’ he said.

He said his family were at their home on Bermuda while he has treatment in New York. He said Miss Zeta-Jones, 40, had been ‘so supportive’ since the diagnosis.
She said in her interview with People magazine that her husband had broken the news of his illness to their children Dylan, ten, and Carys, seven.

She also revealed she was struggling emotionally with seeing him lose his strength as a result of the treatment. ‘I know maybe I should be stronger, but…the hardest part is seeing his fatigue, because Michael is never tired.’

[From The Daily Mail]

This just goes to show that even rich and famous people, presumably with access to the best doctors in the world, have trouble getting a diagnosis. From what I understand there’s no way to detect cancer other than looking at the symptoms, checking blood markers and doing an MRI, x-ray or biopsy where it’s suspected. If the guy has a “walnut-sized” tumor under his tongue, was it obvious and why didn’t anyone just look in his damn mouth? This is sadly common even when people have the best insurance. Medicine is not an exact science and requires a lot of knowledge and motivation on the doctor’s part. There are bad doctors out there, just as there are good doctors using all means at their disposal to do what’s best for their patients. Sometimes it’s too late before you find a good one.

I hope that Douglas is going to be ok, and that the treatment works for him. He seems to be hanging in there and he has so many people rooting for him. We’ll never know if his cancer could have been caught earlier if one of the doctors he saw just asked the right questions or followed up properly. That’s got to make his loved ones livid.

People cover via CoverAwards. Photos are from 6/13, 5/24 and 5/23. Credit:




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51 Responses to “Catherine Zeta Jones furious at doctors who missed Michael Douglas’ cancer”

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  1. irishserra says:

    Fury won’t help the situation. Medicine is not (nor has it ever been) an exact science. She could better serve her loved ones by putting down her fekking cigarettes and encouraging her husband to do the same.

  2. Lardy Chops says:

    A throat cancer only caught at Stage 4 does not have a great prognosis. Seems to me the 80% is somewhat optimistic. But I guess it’s understandable they want to stay upbeat at this stage and send a positive PR message.

  3. mln says:

    I definitley don’t blame her for being angry stage 4 cancer is pretty serious and for him to go to the doctor several times and be told he just had a sore throat is bodering on malpractice. I hope he recovers.

  4. scotchy says:

    i would be livid as well.
    i really still don’t understand how they could not diagnose this until it was at the stage 4 level?
    how is that possible in this day and age???

  5. lena says:

    Well she has every right to be upset, in situations like this you want to blame someone even when it’s not healthy to do so.

  6. alli says:

    I always liked these two, they seem to really be in love. Anger is a normal emotion when someone is diagnosed with cancer, I hope the treatment helps. Sending them good wishes

  7. bob says:

    Maybe she should be angry at Douglas himself for smoking all those years–in many ways, he did this to himself.

  8. Roma says:

    My aunt went to see a doctor when she had the same symptoms and was told that she had psoriasis on her tongue. When she had trouble eating she went back and found out that she had cancer and died 4 weeks later.

    This just proves: if you think something is wrong, it probably is. I feel bad for Michael; between this and his son, tough year.

  9. Barker says:

    I think it is a little more complicated than she is making it. My mother was recently diagnosed with cancer but it took months to detect what kind (sarcoma, carcinoma, lymphoma, etc.). If you can’t nail down the type correctly, then treatment will not be effective or may even be detrimental. It is like treating a cold vs. a flu. If you treat a cold like a flu (or vice versa), you won’t be effective and your illness may get worse. (Simplification obviously).

    Why is she in Bermuda while he is getting treatment in NY? I would think that she would be in NY with him during his treatment unless I misunderstood that part of the story.

  10. Crash2GO2 says:

    There is a lot of soft tissue under the tongue for a tumor to hide – it’s not like he actually had a hard walnut directly under his tongue.

    It’s normal to be angry. One feels so helpless in the face of cancer, but I’m sure the doctors are doing their best. I wish MD the best in his recovery.

  11. k says:

    What’s up with the Lawrence Welk Special she’s wearing in the top pic?

    He said on Letterman that the cancer was due to drinking alcohol, quoting his doctor

  12. canadianchick says:

    I feel for both of them and their kids. She will sue his past doctors and she should sue the doc who messed with her face-she looks like a cat on crack in some of those photos.

  13. SolitaryAngel says:

    I have always liked him….wishing him nothing but the best!

  14. LindyLou says:

    My ex had stage 3 cancer. It took months and months and a litany of tests before he finally got his diagnosis. CZJ can be as angry as she wants but shit happens. It can happen to anyone. She would be better off focusing her energy on supporting her husband’s treatment and recovery. He has a long and unpleasant road ahead of him.

  15. teri says:

    Even though I don’t like CZJ I feel for her. My sister in law just passed at 40 years old and beat cancer twice. What they didn’t find was she also had brain cancer until it was way to late. She faught three long years leaving two very young girls behind. Trust me when you find any cancer do a full body scan to be safe.

  16. California Surfer says:

    Whoa, same thing happened to my mom – the drs were giving her antibiotics for what they thought was an ear infection and maybe MD should try finding a good nataropathic dr to help him in his symptoms and recovery as well. My mom went though all the chemo and radiation and still died so sometimes I think maybe she totally should not have done the treatment, but I guess it gives people hope and does work sometimes.

  17. oxa says:

    I find it distasteful that she is using his health problems to make it about her. Her anger her emotions, she even took her vacation away from him. I wish she would shut up and deal with being present & suporting her husband, cos you never know how long you have with your loved one.

  18. teri says:

    BOB, I know where your coming from. But for those who don’t abuse alcohol or cigarettes or any drugs to die like this is awful. My sister in law never touched any of that stuff, very against it. But here I smoke and drink and will live forever, or at least longer than some who live healthy. Just kinda sucks knowing that I take for granted while others die being very healthy.

  19. Fluffy Kitten Tail says:

    While I feel bad for him, and wish him to have a speedy and full recovery, let’s face it, the man has been a heavy drinker and smoker most of his life. She too is a heavy smoker. Is it any shock to either of them he has throat cancer?

  20. teri says:

    While my SIL lay in pain and heavily on morphine crying out for her mom (she passed away just three weeks before her)I just pray that they find a cure. Her mother was so wrapped up in caring for her daughter and negelected to care for herself who had a large lump, died two weeks before her daughter. It breaks my heart, I don’t wish that on my worst enemy. Times like that you are so helpless and all the money in the world wouldn’t help. It has to be heriditary in the family.

  21. Nia says:

    I hear you Teri. My aunt never smoked or drank a day in her life and took care of herself, but now she is battling lung cancer.

  22. melangie says:

    Pretty sure CZJ is in Bermuda to start her kids in school. It’s only 1 hr 15 min from NYC. They’ve lived there for years- very low key.

  23. JC126 says:

    I don’t blame her for being furious. Anyone would, if they’re honest.

  24. original kate says:

    when my father was 52 he developed headaches and was told repeatedly it was due to sinus problems. then we discovered it was a brain tumor and was inoperable. we were furious, in denial, helpless and finally accepting as he got sicker and sicker. by the time he died a year later we had all made our peace with it. and can i just say thank god for hospice? the caregiver who took care of my father in his last stages took care of us all, and she contributed greatly to our healing. so to all the caregivers, nurses and “meals on wheels” volunteers, please know you make a difference in people’s lives every day. sometimes we are too stunned, angry and grief-stricken to say it. thank you.

  25. meme says:

    @fluffy kitten tail – well said. i feel the same.

  26. bitca says:

    Diagnostic medicine seems to be an Achilles’ heel for many doctors. They can be so reluctant to change their initial diagnosis, that treatment becomes an exercise in futility. Please, never hesitate to speak out to your Dr—& if something’s ‘off,’ get a 2nd opinion; a 3rd even. It could save your life.

    I lost my mom because she was too shy to seek a 2nd opinion. Her kind, tone-deaf Doc doled out a succession of prescriptions based on a mis-diagnosis, & ignored the fact that they simply made her feel worse. The meds were contraindicated by her condition & ultimately killed her.

  27. Mairead says:

    She’s not “making it about her”, she’s doing a magazine interview where it was a line of questioning that she chose to answer. Anger might not be the most positive emotion in the world, but by god it can spur one onto doing positive things. Many charities start off by one person or a group of people being hacked off by something enough to change it.

    As for why she isn’t in NY – she has two children who are probably starting back at school this week. Two children who are probably scared witless by their father being ill. But, yeah go and write her a letter and tell her to dump ’em with nannies so that it’ll keep you lot happy. 🙄

    And my deepest sympathies to those of you who have suffered or have lost loved ones.

  28. Jello says:

    Oh Jesus, I just don’t have it in me to hate on CZJ’s face, her dress, where she is or isn’t. The Douglas family has had a tough year. And unless someone’s been stoning puppies I won’t wish such an sad run on them or anyone.

  29. Gigohead says:

    CJZ should be furious at herself and Michael for the years of smoking.

  30. She-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named says:

    I’d be furious too, a simple CT or x-ray even, given his symptoms, age and background…

    Lost my dad to Pancreatic Cancer. Agonizing. He just said the middle of his back hurt and by the time they found it, it was too late.

    Blaming them for being smokers/drinkers is cruel. Cancer is evil and happens to health conscious people every day. It also does NOT happen to everyone who drinks or smokes or overeats, or eats red meat, or pickled foods, or doesn’t work out for hours every week…

    My best friend’s little brother had sinus problems, stuffy nose, got course after course of antibiotics that didn’t help. Finally they did a CT and found brain cancer. They treated him aggressively but he died. He was 24 and never touched a drink or smoke in his life.

    This works both ways though, my doctors here are CT scan happy, they want to follow up everything with a scan, which is expensive and stressful. I’ve already opted out of 2 scans for various things that I just didn’t find necessary. The problem is, CT scans irradiate your body and there have been tons of cases of hospitals not calibrating the equipment correctly so people get very high doses. I’m feeling better after the antibiotics, so I don’t see a need to run in for a CT scan as well.

    I think we just need to take some control over our health and not just follow blindly doctors who either ignore our symptoms or over treat us with antibiotics and scans.

    80% sounds way too high, unfortunately. I wish them love and strength.

  31. LindaR says:

    That’s right. Blame the doctors you F@@kwit. Most throat and mouth cancers are not detected until they are stage 4. Those are the stats. As well, 75 percent of throat and mouth cancers occur in people that smoke. Which he does/did. And so does she. A@@holes. Ignore the research, abuse your body and then expect someone to be able to fix it. THAT makes sense!

  32. Kiska says:

    I can understand her anger. Cancer, especially at the stage he has is not easy to beat. She is probably scared about losing her husband and father to her two young children.
    It is natural to feel upset. She loves him!

  33. GatsbyGal says:

    If I were her and he were my husband, I’d be livid too.

  34. dj says:

    My sincere prayers for all of their recoveries from this difficult event. Anger is a natural emotional response to tragic news. It is one of the stages of grief. Every emotion has a purpose. This is helping her move through this and take care of her family at this difficult time.

  35. gabs says:

    Its a normal reaction. Dont blame her. Hoping for the best

  36. benny says:

    I have little sympathy for smokers who get ill because of the their decades of smoking. The ones I feel sorry for are the family members who have to watch them die, and the innocent people who get ill from their second-hand smoke.

  37. Cruisin Through says:

    She has every right to be furious. Stage 4 is close to a death sentence.

  38. Kiska says:

    I’m shocked by the callous comments made by others who have no sympathy for the man because he smoked. Cancer hits anyone, at any time. I had a cousin, who at 37 died of cancer. She was a paramedic, an athlete and by no means a smoker or drinker. The doctors told the family that her cancer was stress induced and not through lifestyle.
    It angers me when ignorant people make comments and show no compassion. Shame on you.

  39. Annie says:

    It’s called “The PRACTICE of medicine” for a reason.

  40. canadianchick says:

    My sympathies for all the people who lost loved ones to the big “C”.

  41. Camille says:

    I’d be super mega pissed off too. I wish MD and family the best. He is a very good actor.

  42. DeeDee says:

    My sister-in-law (never smoked or drank) got bum diagnosis (canker sore – it will heal) – by the time correct diagnosis of mouth cancer came in, it was too late – after 14 months of unsuccessful treatments that left her with out the ability to eat or talk, and hellish pain, she passed at 50. I believe that she was too trusting of first doctor – any doubts – get second opinion.

  43. K McFarlane says:

    Smoking is bad but it doesn’t cause this kind of cancer.

    Don’t forget that he was diagnosed only 3 weeks ago (less than that when they were interviewed). It’s perfectly normal for her to feel anger – it’s a recognized stage of grieving. I’d be angry too.

    I wish him all the best.

  44. Jeri says:

    My financee died of a brain tumor. A year to the month before they said he had an inner ear infection. He died after about 2 years.

    At first I was pissed about the inner ear thing. But later, if they had found it sooner the end would have began sooner. They operated the same evening it was discovered and many more times.

    At least we had that year of peace. Nothing would have changed the outcome, it was the kind that grows & grows, returns & returns.

    Oh, and they have no idea what caused it. This can’t be blamed on smoking or drinking or whatever people want to blame. Sometimes it just happens. He was 33.

  45. Cheekemunkey says:

    My deepest sympathies to those who have lost loved ones due to misdiagnosis, or were diagnosed when their cancer was too advanced for treatment.

    Terrible to say, but if the misdiagnosis doesn’t kill you, then maybe the treatment will!

    Medicine (surgery/chemo/radiation) is not the only treatment available. There are options. Please google ‘iodine and cancer’ and Hulda Clark.

  46. JC126 says:

    Tsk-tsking about how “smokers brought it on themselves” is really pathetic. I’ve noticed this is one of the last things about which people are self-righteous, even if they’re eating themselves into a heart attack or stroke. It’s doubtful that ANY of us are leading a perfect life, and we’ll all die of something. I doubt that the tsk-tskers are leading 100% healthful lives. So get off your high horse. And no, I don’t smoke and never did.

  47. my sympathies and concern to families doing/done battle with this insidious stalker of a disease…

  48. gg says:

    Here, here to original kate.

    Out of all the tests mentioned in this article and in the comments section, the main one you need for cancer detection is a PT Scan. CT scans only show things you need to maybe watch. They are not definitive as most of us have “flaws” somewhere in our bodies that are not cancerous; i.e., scar tissue, etc.

  49. trashaddict says:

    McFarlane, unless you have some information I don’t you are incorrect. Smoking greatly increases the risk of the following:
    Cancer of the mouth and tongue, cancer of the throat, cancer of the esophagus, cancer of the stomach, cancer of the pancreas, and cancer of the bladder. It also causes chronic obstructive lung disease (many of those people you see carting around portable oxygen tanks were smokers – and god help us, some still are),
    coronary heart disease and is a risk factor for osteoporosis. My mother died of lung cancer. I miss her terribly but I also know she bears some of the responsibility for her own death. What really makes me furious is when I see people in their 20s who have taken up cigarettes KNOWING FULL WELL what they do. If they decide to blame the doctors when they are diagnosed I will go ballistic. This information was not known when my mother started smoking.
    I wish Michael’s family all the best.

  50. Catherine says:

    I would be livid as well. Any doctor worth their salt should have been able to see a walnut sized tumor on a proper scan. I wish him and his family the best through all fo this.

  51. FRED DOBBS says:

    I can understand her anger, she loves Mike, its a natural reaction, he is a stand up guy, and i wish him all the best.