Comedienne Wanda Sykes Reveals Her Recent Bout With Breast Cancer
Karla Robinson, MD
On a recent Ellen Degeneres Show, comedienne Wanda Sykes revealed her recent bout with breast cancer to the public. Having now undergone a double mastectomy, Sykes has stated that her cancer was in a very early stage when it was first discovered largely by accident.
The comedienne recounted how as a result of an elective breast reduction procedure, cancerous cells were found in her breast tissue before any serious complications developed.
“It wasn’t until after the reduction that in the lab work, the pathology, that they found that I had DCIS [ductal carcinoma in situ] in my left breast. I was very, very lucky because DCIS is basically stage-zero cancer. So I was very lucky”, states the 47 year old.
Ductal Carcinoma in Situ (DCIS) is a breast cancer that is localized and confined to the ducts of the breasts. It is typically diagnosed on screening mammograms and accounts for 20% of all new breast cancer diagnoses. Risk factors for developing DCIS include a family
history of breast cancer, obesity, having dense breast tissue, no childbirth,
or first child birth over age 40.
The prognosis is generally excellent in patients diagnosed with DCIS, as it has a mortality rate of approximately 2%.
The goal of treatment of DCIS is to prevent the development of an invasive cancer. About
30% of those diagnosed with DCIS choose to have a mastectomy of the affected breast or both breasts to not only treat but to also decrease the likelihood of a recurrence of the cancer. Mastectomy proves curative in 98% of patients, with a less than 2% chance of local
Those with DCIS found in one breast are also at an increased risk of DCIS developing in the other breast. In these instances, some patients opt for a double mastectomy as in the case of Sykes.
Others choose to have a breast conserving surgery in the form of a lumpectomy or partial mastectomy to remove the cancerous tissue. This form of treatment may carry a recurrence rate as high as 20%. Breast conserving surgery may be enhanced by radiation therapy which data shows can significantly decrease the rate of recurrence of cancerous cells. In those receiving radiation in addition to breast conserving surgery, the rate of recurrence of cancer fell to about 10%.
With October being Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we are committed to raise more awareness in the community out breast cancer and the importance of health maintenance and early disease detection.
Make it a priority to have your regular breast cancer screening:
*If you are a woman in your 20s or 30s, you should be having a basic clinical breast exam for screening if low risk.
*For those women of high risk for developing breast cancer or those aged 40 and older, you should be getting your yearly mammogram for early detection.
There are many resources now in every state to help women get access to mammography
screening. There are programs in your area that cover the cost of a mammogram when your insurance doesn’t. If you need more information, contact the American Cancer Society at 1-800-ACS-2345.