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TODAY

Katie Couric has dense breasts which meant a second screening was necessary to detect any abnormalities in her breasts.

The Former TODAY host shared her breast cancer diagnosis in an essay on her website on Sept. 28.

Couric said she was diagnosed with stage 1A breast cancer which means the cancer had not spread.

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The 65-year-old mom-of-2 underwent a lumpectomy (to remove the lump) in July and she began chemotherapy and radiation treatments to kill any remaining cancer cells.

"Because my breasts are dense, I routinely get an additional screening using a breast ultrasound," she wrote.

"The denser your breasts, the higher your risk of cancer. In 2019, the FDA proposed federal legislation that would make the language and guidance more specific, but the agency has been dragging its feet. Let's get a move on, folks," she added.

About half of American women over age 40 have dense breasts which show up as white on X-rays. Tumors and calcifications also show up as white on X-rays.

Fatty tissue shows up as grey on X-rays so tumors are easily detected.

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Women with dense breasts have more fibrous glandular tissue than fatty tissue. The high density can conceal even golf ball-sized tumors on 2D mammograms.

Annual 3D mammograms are recommended for women over 40 with dense breasts. 3D mammograms are more accurate in detecting cancer than 2D mammograms.

38 states have breast density reporting laws requiring doctors to provide women with a letter explaining their breast density. But the law is not a nationwide standard.

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"Having a national standard would help ensure every woman gets the most accurate information she needs after a mammogram," said Lisa Lacasse, president of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network.

"The FDA is committed to improving mammography services for patients and working diligently to finalize the rule to amend the existing mammography regulations," Shauna Nelson, a spokesperson for the FDA, told TODAY in a statement on Sept. 28.

Breast cancer rates and other types of cancers have soared in the United States since 2020. Doctors aren't sure why.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month takes place in October. People with breasts should do a breast self-exam at least once a month to detect cancer early.

Watch the video below.
 

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Katie Couric announced her breast cancer diagnosis in an Instagram post on Wednesday. The veteran journalist revealed she was diagnosed with breast cancer after discovering a lump in her breast in June.

The 65-year-old mom-of-two underwent a lumpectomy in July and began chemotherapy and radiation treatments that ended last week.

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In a lengthy essay on her website titled "Why NOT Me?" Couric recalled the day she got her biopsy results.

"When I called back, Dr. Drossman picked up right away," Couric writes in the essay.

"'Your biopsy came back. It's cancer. You're going to be fine but we need to make a plan.' I felt sick and the room started to spin. I was in the middle of an open office, so I walked to a corner and spoke quietly, my mouth unable to keep up with the questions swirling in my head... What does this mean? Will I need a mastectomy? Will I need chemo? What will the next weeks, months, even years look like?"

She said her diagnosis brought back memories of her late husband Jay Monahan, who died from colon cancer in 1998.

"The heart-stopping, suspended animation feeling I remember all too well came flooding back: Jay's colon cancer diagnosis at 41 and the terrifying, gutting nine months that followed," she writes.

"My sister Emily's pancreatic cancer, which would later kill her at 54, just as her political career was really taking off. My mother-in-law Carol's ovarian cancer, which she was fighting as she buried her son, a year and nine months before she herself was laid to rest."

Couric urged women over 40 to get their yearly mammogram - preferably a 3D mammogram to decrease the chance of a call back.

"Please get your annual mammogram," Couric writes. "I was six months late this time. I shudder to think what might have happened if I had put it off longer. But just as importantly, please find out if you need additional screening."

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Ciara urged Black women to get regular cervical cancer screenings as she notes that Black women are "twice as likely to die from cervical cancer than white women."

In an op-ed for NBC at the start of Black History Month, Ciara wrote that Black women should get regular PAP smear screenings as part of "self-care".

She wrote that Black women are twice as likely to die from cervical cancer than white women," and it's "not because of biology."

The 36-year-old mother-of-three blamed "health disparities" and "systemic racism" for higher cervical cancer rates among Black women.

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"It's because of health care disparities, systemic racism and long-held inequities," she wrote, adding, "This must change."

Ciara said Black women should prioritize our own health care since we are invisible to the medical establishment.

She revealed that a member of her team received a cervical cancer diagnosis. Her friend's diagnosis hit home for her.

"The good news is that she prioritized her self-care and got screened," Ciara wrote, before adding, "The even better news is that because of early detection, her cancer was treatable, and today she is thriving."

The part-time singer and homemaker continued:

"As we conclude Cervical Health Awareness Month and enter Black History Month, we should use this moment to prioritize our self-care by taking action to protect our health and encouraging others to do the same."

Doctors recommend Pap smears along with a pelvic exam beginning at age 21 then every three years until age 65.

A Pap smear combined with HPV testing can be performed every five years for women age 30 and older.

Doctors recommend more frequent Pap smears, regardless of age, if you have the following risk factors:

  • A diagnosis of cervical cancer or precancerous cervical cells
  • Exposure to diethylstilbestrol (DES) before birth
  • HIV infection
  • Weakened immune system
  • History of smoking

Women who had a total hysterectomy or women older than 65 with previously negative Pap tests can consider stopping Pap screening.

Consult with your doctor to determine the option that is best for you.

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Mary J. Blige is leading a new breast cancer campaign aimed at Black women after confessing she ignored breast cancer screenings and mammograms until she was 40.

As part of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the 50-year-old "Family Affair" singer hopes to bring attention to breast cancer screenings and preventative care in an effort to save lives.

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Taking part in a panel discussion organized by bosses at Hologic, the company behind the 3D Mammogram exam, Mary urged women of color to set aside medical mistrust and negative experiences with doctors and make sure they stay on top of cancer check-ups.

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"My aunt died from breast cancer and my grandmother died from cervical cancer and one of my aunts just died from lung cancer," Blige said, according to The Source. "What happens is they end up in the hospital and there's no one in our families speaking about it when we're younger.

"I didn't know about breast cancer or mammograms until I was 40 and I was in the music business and I was trying to take care of myself. My body started talking so I started listening. I found out about it at the GYN (gynecologist). They don't discuss this when we're children. They don't say, 'Go get a mammogram'. You learn about this as you get older."

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Mary said it's "extremely important" to let women know, "that no matter how scary it is or who's telling you it's scary, take care of you. Take care of your health... I want to help women heal from breast cancer. I want to help us feel beautiful all the way around."

Screening tests include clinical and self breast exams, mammograms, genetic testing, ultrasound, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Screenings help to detect breast cancer early in asymptomatic women to improve outcomes.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, breast cancer is the most common cancer in women, regardless of race or ethnicity.

According to Breastcancer.org, about one in eight women in the U.S. (about 12.4 percent) will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her life.

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Swizz captioned the photo in part:

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