His famous actress wife, Catherine Zeta Jones has stated publicly that she is outraged that her husband's doctors failed to detect this cancer in a timely fashion. She's rightfully upset. Although the details of what complaints he had and what his doctors observed or failed to observe are not public, the basics of failing to diagnose cancer is the same.
Many types of cancer present with symptoms. In Douglas' case, his cancer is at the most advanced stage. Cancer is typically described as four stages. Stage I is the smallest and most localized. Stage IV is the most advanced and has usually spread to other parts of the body.
In it's most basic definition, cancer means that cells have grown out of control and our body cannot control them. The treatments typically available to treat different types of cancers range from surgery to radiation therapy to putting toxic chemicals in our bloodstream, known as chemotherapy. Each cancer reacts differently and not all therapies are appropriate for every cancer.
The key in any cancer case is timely diagnosis and treatment. The earlier the cancer is detected, the better chances the patient has for a better outcome.
In Michael Douglas' case, his wife has made it clear that his doctors dropped the ball and failed to diagnose his cancer earlier. Does he have a valid case? It's impossible to tell just from what's been reported in the media. In order to fully evaluate a failure to diagnose case, all of the medical records must be obtained and reviewed. The attorney needs to know when the patient went to the doctor; what complaints they had; what the doctor did about them; what testing, if any, was done, and what follow-up occurred.
I will typically as a potential client what they believe was done wrong that caused permanent harm?
In a failure to diagnose cancer case the harm is that the patient's life expectancy has been severely diminished. Had their cancer been detected early enough, you can argue that his life expectancy would have been much greater.
Good luck to you Mr. Douglas with your treatments.