"Dirty Dancing" star Patrick Swayze has cancer

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Actor and dancer Patrick Swayze, star of such hit films as “Dirty Dancing” and “Ghost,” has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer but is responding well to treatment, his publicist said on Wednesday.

Slideshow ( 5 images )

The 55-year-old performer was working during his treatments, publicist Annett Wolf said, dismissing reports in the tabloid media that portrayed him in grave condition with only weeks to live.

Wolf issued a written statement from his physician, Dr. George Fisher that said: “Patrick has a very limited amount of disease and he appears to be responding well to treatment.”

“All of the reports stating the timeframe of his prognosis and his physical side effects are absolutely untrue,” Fisher said in the statement. “We are considerably more optimistic.”

Wolf said Swayze deeply appreciated the “outpouring of support and concern” he has received from the public.

Though Swayze has had dozens of film, TV and stage roles, he is best known for starring as dance instructor Johnny Castle opposite Jennifer Grey’s character, infatuated teenager Frances “Baby” Houseman, in “Dirty Dancing.”

The film, which centers on an unlikely romance between the pair at a 1960s resort in the Catskills of New York, defied expectations to become a massive hit, earning both actors Golden Globe Award nominations.

Swayze performed the song “She’s Like the Wind” for the movie’s soundtrack and his signature line, “Nobody puts Baby in the corner,” has become a pop culture staple.

“Dirty Dancing,” which also featured the Oscar-winning song “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” -- remains widely popular two decades later and is replayed almost constantly on TV in the United States.

Swayze went on to star alongside Demi Moore in the 1990 tear-jerker romance “Ghost,” which also became a huge box office hit and was nominated for an Academy Award for best picture.

The Texas-born Swayze, whose dancer-choreographer mother owned a Houston ballet studio, began performing at an early age and got his start in show business as a dancer and on the stage before landing film and TV roles in Hollywood.

Editing by Bob Tourtellotte and Sandra Maler