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Teresa Heinz reveals current battle with breast cancer

Kathleen Blanchard's picture

Teresa Heinz, the 71 year old wife of Senator John Kerry reveals her current battle with breast cancer. Facing her own struggle with breast cancer, Teresa Heinz also expresses her own opinion about the value of mammograms for breast cancer detection, citing recommendations from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force last month that women begin breast cancer screening at age 50 versus age 40.

Teresa Heinz breast cancer therapy has involved bilateral lumpectomy, performed in October at a Washington Hospital. An annual mammogram discovered the cancer in her right breast, performed in September. Initial pathology reports suggested the cancer was benign. Two other opinions from pathologists found the malignancies in November when she underwent two more lumpectomies.

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Because of the side effects of aggressive breast cancer treatment, and given her age, Teresa Heinz is debating which therapies for breast cancer she will pursue. During her November lumpectomies, titanium clips were inserted into her breast tissue.

According to the AP, Teresa Heinz stated in an interview, and in response to the current recommendations regarding mammography guidelines for younger women, “Chemotherapy is serious. It also costs a lot of money. It's very painful. And it's very destructive of people's — most people's — lives for a while, anyway. So why put people through that instead of just having a test that's done, and it's done?"

Next month Teresa Heinz will start radiation treatment for breast cancer, for five consecutive days. The treatments will reportedly raise her odds of breast cancer survival to 95 percent. Follow up treatments would increase Teresa Heinz' chances of breast cancer survival to 99 percent, but she is undecided about which additional therapies she will choose.