Wimbledon Champ Martina Navratilova Has DCIS Breast Cancer

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Tennis champion Martina Navratilova, 53, has announced that she has been diagnosed with ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) breast cancer in early January and is undergoing treatment. She says she is “very hopeful”, and blames herself for not getting regular mammograms.

Navratilova says that she skipped her mammogram for four years and the diagnosis was a “total shock because I’ve been so healthy.” She now urges women to get the test done regularly. “The sooner you catch it, the better,” she said to USA Today.

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Ductal carcinoma in situ is a non-invasive cancer that originates in the breast milk duct. The term “in situ” means that the cancer cells have not yet escaped beyond the walls of the milk ducts. It is a stage 0 cancer, sometimes called “pre-cancer”, with about a 95% survival rate. If left untreated, however, DCIS can develop into invasive breast cancer in about 30% of women, according to the Breast Cancer Network.

DCIS is diagnosed in about 62,000 American women each year, compared to about 180,000 women who are diagnosed with invasive breast cancer, according to the American Cancer Society.

DCIS is usually first found on a routine mammogram and is characterized by the appearance of tiny specks of calcium, called microcalcifications. The diagnosis is confirmed by a biopsy. Ms. Navratilova has undergone the most common surgical procedure to remove the cancerous tissue – a lumpectomy. She will also have 4 to 6 weeks of radiation beginning in May to prevent recurrence of the disease.

Chemotherapy is not often prescribed for women with DCIS, but patients may also be offered the estrogen blocking drug Tamoxifen, which can reduce cancer recurrence about 8 to 13 percent.

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