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Katie Couric warning women of difficult-to-find breast cancer

Katie Couric warning women of difficult-to-find breast cancer
Katie Couric warning women of difficult-to-find breast cancer 02:30

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - Katie Couric is warning women about a difficult-to-find cancer, the revelation coming in October Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Couric was recently diagnosed with breast cancer and discovered she's among millions of women at increased risk who might need a more advanced kind of screening.

Like many women during the pandemic, journalist Katie Couric fell behind on her mammograms. When she went for her screening, she documented the process on camera, including the moment her doctor found something of concern.

"In addition to getting a mammogram, I also get a breast ultrasound," Couric said. 

Her doctor said, "What I saw was a mass, and that mass had irregular margins."

Couric announced last month she'd been diagnosed with Stage 1 breast cancer and has undergone surgery and radiation. Appearing on CBS Mornings, she opened up about the experience.

"I've always been extremely vigilant about my health, especially after my husband died and I became a single mom, and my daughters were 6 and 2," Couric said. "But for some reason, I think the pandemic sort of got us off schedule and messed with our sense of time." 

Couric is among 40 to 50% of women who have dense breast tissue, which means mammograms may not pick up signs of cancer. Those women should talk to their doctors about additional screening.

"Unfortunately, even 3D mammograms, which are far superior to standard mammograms, aren't really always that great at detecting tumors. If you have dense breasts, my radiologist said it's like finding a snowball against a backdrop of a field of snow," Couric said. 

The Food and Drug Administration is planning new regulations for informing women about their tissue type and screening options. A move Couric hopes will lead to early detection and saving of lives.

When breast cancer is found early the five-year survival rate is 99%.

The American Cancer Society says women should start getting mammograms at age 45, earlier if at high risk. 

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