Dirty Dancing star Patrick Swayze has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and is undergoing treatment, but contrary to published reports, his publicist and doctor said Wednesday 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.
Fishers comments came in response to an article by the National Enquirer, which broke the news of Swayze's illness on its website and said the actor had only five weeks to live and the cancer had spread to other organs.
Pancreatic cancer is the deadliest of the leading cancers, according to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. Fewer than 5 percent of patients live more than five years after diagnosis and the average life expectancy after diagnosis is between three and six months. Opera great Luciano Pavarotti and actor Michael Landon both died of pancreatic cancer.
The American Cancer Society estimates that 37,680 Americans will be diagnosed with the disease this year and that 34,290 will die of it, making it the fourth-leading cause of cancer death.
Swayze, 55, shot to fame as dance instructor Johnny Castle in the 1987 movie musical Dirty Dancing, where he earned a Golden Globe nomination. He later starred alongside Demi Moore in 1990's Ghost, which scored an Oscar nomination for best picture.
He's set to appear next in the film Powder Blue with Jessica Biel, Ray Liotta and Forest Whitaker.