Acclaimed journalist and former television host Katie Couric recently revealed publicly that she has been diagnosed with breast cancer, sharing details about her treatment and emphasizing the importance of breast cancer screening.
Couric lost her first husband to colorectal cancer in 1998, spurring her to co-found the cancer research charity Stand Up to Cancer. Now, she is sharing her own story to remind women to get screened for breast cancer.
“The diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer has come a long way, and early detection is one of the keys to the progress that’s been made,” said Jennifer Tseng, M.D., the medical director of breast surgery at City of Hope Orange County. “A combination of self-exams, clinical breast exams and preventive screenings can make all the difference. The most important thing is to get screened regularly in consultation with your physician and pay close attention to any abnormal changes in your breast.”
Here are five key reasons to schedule a breast cancer screening today.
Don’t put your health on hold. If you’ve been delaying your mammograms, now is the time to get back on track. Couric was exceptionally vigilant about her health after her husband’s passing, she said, but she skipped her annual mammogram for six months in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Delays in cancer screenings may result in the disease being diagnosed at an advanced stage that is harder to treat.
Early detection helps save lives. Couric was diagnosed with Stage 1 breast cancer. Detecting breast cancer when it is at an early stage means more treatment options and the best chance at the best outcome, and when breast cancer is diagnosed at Stage 0 or 1, the five-year survival rate is 99%.
Digital mammography is exceptionally good at what’s most important. Couric received a 3D mammogram, also known as digital breast tomosynthesis (DBT). DBT is a leading-edge imaging technology that represents a major advancement in breast cancer detection. It allows physicians to capture multiple images from various angles to show a more complete image of the breast than was previously possible and to detect subtle abnormalities often found in early-stage breast cancer.
Mammograms are an opportunity to consider genetic testing and counseling. Breast cancer risk can be increased by genetic mutations like BRCA1 and BRCA2 passed down through a person’s family tree. A screening panel that assesses genetic risk can be a powerful tool for proactive health care planning, and a genetic counselor can explain the guidelines to determine if it’s right for you. City of Hope Orange County offers access to a comprehensive cancer risk assessment program focused on family history and genetics. Contact us to learn more.
Dense breasts may need additional testing. Couric said she often gets additional screening because she has dense breasts. After her mammogram, she received a breast ultrasound, which located the anomaly that led to her diagnosis. Talk to your physician about whether you have dense tissue and, if so, whether the sensitivity of your mammogram should be adjusted.
Learn more about City of Hope’s world-renowned breast cancer care in Orange County. To make an appointment at any of our five Orange County locations, call 888-333-HOPE (4673).