Shannen Doherty, who was initially diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015, said Tuesday that the disease has returned. The former Beverly Hills 90210 star told ABC News, “It’s going to come out in a matter of days or a week that I have Stage IV. So, my cancer came back, and that’s why I’m here.”
Doherty, 48, decided to share her diagnosis because “I’d rather people hear it from me.” She is in a legal battle with the insurance company State Farm, and court filings set to be released this week include her current health status.
“I don’t think that I’ve processed it,” Doherty said of the latest diagnosis. “It’s a bitter pill to swallow in a lot of ways. … I would say that my first reaction is always concern about how am I going to tell my mom, my husband.”
The National Breast Cancer Foundation projected in 2019 that an estimated 268,600 new cases of invasive breast cancer would be diagnosed in women in the U.S. An estimated 41,760 women would die from the disease. (1) However, death rates from breast cancer have been declining since about 1990, in part due to better screening and early detection, increased awareness, and continually improving treatment options.
Doctors seldom know why one woman develops breast cancer, and another doesn’t, but we do know it is always caused by damage to a cell’s DNA. Still, there are certain established risk factors associated with breast cancer:
• Being Overweight or Obese
• Certain Genome Changes
• Combined Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)
• Dense Breast Tissue
• Drinking Alcohol
• Family History and Genetic Factors
• Lack of Physical Activity
• Menstrual and Reproductive History
• Personal Health History
• Poor Diet
• Radiation to the Chest
Nonetheless, 60-70% of people with breast cancer have no connection to these risk factors at all, and other people with risk factors will never develop cancer. (2)
Just four months after friend Luke Perry’s death, Doherty decided to keep her most recent diagnosis to herself and returned to work on 90210 reboot. Doherty said that she didn’t tell anyone about the recurrence because she wanted to prove she was still able to work.
“It’s so weird for me to be diagnosed and then somebody who was, you know, seemingly healthy to go first,” Doherty said of her former co-star’s passing. “The least I could do to honor him was to do that show.”
She added, “One of the reasons, along with Luke, that I did 90210 and didn’t really tell anybody because I thought, people can look at that other people with Stage IV can work too. “Our life doesn’t end the minute we get that diagnosis. We still have some living to do.”
The 5-year survival rate for all breast cancer stages is 90%, which means that women who have this cancer are 90% as likely as women who don’t have breast cancer to live for at least 5 years after being diagnosed. (3) Survival rates are estimates often based on previous outcomes of people who breast cancer. These statistics, however, cannot predict what will happen in any particular person’s case. It is essential to know these numbers apply only to an initial diagnosis. They do not apply later on if the cancer grows, spreads, or comes back after treatment, as with Doherty.
The National Cancer Institute groups cancer into three groups:
• Localized –There is no sign that the cancer has spread outside of the breast.
• Regional –The cancer has spread outside the breast to nearby structures or lymph nodes.
• Distant – The cancer has spread to distant parts of the body such as the lungs, liver or bones.
The 5-year survival rate for Localized is 99%, Regional is 86%, and Distant is 27%.
There are things you can do that may lower the risk of breast cancer growing or returning. Exercising, eating a particular type of diet, or taking nutritional supplements might be helpful.
Conventional and alternative cancer treatments are expensive, even if you have insurance. There are many ways to cover the cost of treatment, and www.2cancer.com assists and helps patients financially manage their cancer care.
www.2cancer.com will evaluate an existing life insurance policy to possibly convert it into much-needed cash to pay for cancer treatment. Regardless of whether you choose conventional or alternative cancer treatments, having the financial means to fight cancer is vital to your health and wellness during and after treatment.
(1) Breast Cancer Facts. https://www.nationalbreastcancer.org/breast-cancer-facts
(2) Breast Cancer Risk Factors. https://www.nationalbreastcancer.org/breast-cancer-risk-factors
(3) Survival Rates for Breast Cancer. https://www.cancer.org/cancer/breast-cancer/understanding-a-breast-cancer-diagnosis/breast-cancer-survival-rates.html