Better Health: Smart Health Commentary Better Health (TM): smart health commentary

Article Comments

Wanda Sykes Diagnosed With DCIS And Opts For A Double Mastectomy

When Wanda Skyes, 47, had a bilateral breast reduction in February, the pathology returned with DCIS present in the left breast specimen.  Recently the comedian appeared on  “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” and during the interview revealed her breast cancer diagnosis and her decision to have a double mastectomy.

Sykes continued, “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.”

But, she added, “Cancer is still cancer. I had the choice of, ‘You can go back every three months and get it checked. Have a mammogram, MRI every three months just to see what it’s doing.’ But, I’m not good at keeping on top of stuff. I’m sure I’m overdue for an oil change and a teeth cleaning already.”

Because she has a history of breast cancer on her mother’s side of the family, Sykes explained she opted to have a bilateral mastectomy.

“I had both breasts removed, because now I have zero chance of having breast cancer,” she said. “It sounds scary up front, but what do you want? Do you want to wait and not be as fortunate when it comes back and it’s too late?”

The American Cancer Society has a nice article which reviews the risk factors for breast cancer.  The risks factors for Sykes (which can be garnered from the news article) include a family history of breast cancer (don’t know which relative on mother’s side), a personal history of breast cancer, African-American, and age.

I don’t think I would have advised her to have a bilateral prophylactic mastectomy on this information, but perhaps with more info I would have.  Though an effort is made to remove all breast tissue with a prophylactic mastectomy, it is wrong for us doctors/surgeons to ever suggest that we actually DO get it all.  More truthful to say we have removed most (90% plus).

While we are on the topic of breast cancer, please, take a look at Elaine Schattner, M.D., Medical Lessons, post from Monday:  NEJM Publishes New Review on Breast Cancer Screening.

Media Sources

Wanda Sykes’ double mastectomy is aggressive treatment for DCIS; Karen Kaplan; Los Angeles Times/For the Booster Shots blog, September 23, 2011

Wanda Sykes has double mastectomy;  Ann Oldenburg; USA Today, Sep 23, 2011

Wanda Sykes: I had a double mastectomy; Jessica Derschowitz; CBS News, Sep 23, 2011

For more information on DCIS

Breast Cancer; PubMed Health, last updated December 2010

DCIS – Ductal Carcinoma In Situ; BreastCancer.org, last updated August 12, 2011

Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS); Mayo Clinic, last update June 23, 2011

*This blog post was originally published at Suture for a Living*


You may also like these posts

Read comments »


Comments are closed.

Return to article »

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

Read more »

How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

Read more »

See all interviews »

Latest Cartoon

See all cartoons »

Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

Read more »

The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

Read more »

Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

Read more »

See all book reviews »