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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;, 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*

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