The news that the actor was suffering from the aggressive form of cancer was broken by US tabloid the National Enquirer. But while the tabloid stated that the 55-year-old star had only weeks to live, his physician Dr George Fisher insisted that he was responding well to treatment. "He appears to be responding well to treatment thus far," he said at the time.
"All of the reports stating the timeframe of his prognosis and his physical side effects are absolutely untrue. We are considerably more optimistic," he added. Swayze, a keen pilot, is so fond of his cigarettes that in 2001 his plane crashed after the altitude controller became blocked with tar.