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Michael Douglas: I 'Beat' Cancer

Michael Douglas
Platon

"The tumor is gone," the actor says on the "Today" show. "But I have to check out on a monthly basis now to maintain."

Michael Douglas has beat throat cancer, he tells Matt Lauer in an interview to air on the Today show Tuesday. (Segments will also air Sunday, Jan. 23 on Dateline NBC.)

"I feel good, relieved. The tumor is gone," adds Douglas, who is up for best supporting actor this Sunday for his role in Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps. "But, you know, I have to check out on a monthly basis now to maintain. I guess there's not a total euphoria. I'll probably take a couple of months of getting checked out.  But it's been a wild six-month ride."

Douglas says he is still dealing with some of the long-term side effects of the disease.

"[My] salivary ducts have been closed down as a result of the radiation, probably for at least a year or two," he explains. "So your mouth is very dry-- particularly affects you at night-- for sleeping.  Still have the cheek factor, which will progressively go away. But that's about it."

But his appetite is back.

"I'm eating like a pig," Douglas jokes. "I'm still… I lost about 32 pounds. And I've put about 12 back.  But, I mean, I got another 20, 25 to go."

Douglas says his doctors have restricted him from working out - but not from food.

"I can eat anything I want.  They want to keep the cardio down because they want me to put some more weight on," says Douglas. "I lost a lot of muscle mass, so I'm going to work on that.  I'm going to get my fingers ready for Liberace, you know…."

Douglas is referring to the Steven Soderbergh movie he prepared for even while battling cancer, as he explained to The Hollywood Reporter in December.

He says he's "absolutely" looking forward to a future in acting.

"I think the odds are with the tumor gone and what I know about this particular type of cancer that I've got it beat," he says.

Still, Douglas admits that cancer has "put a timeline on my life."

"You know, I'm fortunate I've got a mother who's 88.  She'll kill me.  She may be 87.  My father's 94. So, you know, I feel good about those genes," he says. "But it's definitely a third act. And so you're a little more conscious of your time in how you choose to spend it."