Women's health

Martina Navratilova has breast cancer

Cancer caught in early stages

Martina Navratilova has breast cancer. The 53 year old tennis star who holds a record number of singles and doubles titles was diagnosed with a non-invasive type of breast cancer called ductal carcinoma in situ in February.

With ductal carcinoma in situ, the cancer is confined to the milk ducts and has not spread to surrounding breast tissue Without treatment, the cancer can spread further.

The nine times Wimbledon champion has already undergone a lumpectomy to remove the cancerous tissue, and is due to receive 6 weeks of radiation therapy to kill off any remaining cancer cells.

She told American magazine, People, how she cried when she received the results of a biopsy taken after a mammogram had shown a cluster in her left breast.

"It knocked me on my ass, really. I feel so in control of my life and my body, and then this comes, and it's completely out of my hands," she said.

She also admitted she had actually been lucky, as she had not been regularly showing up for mammograms: "I went four years between mammograms. I let it slide.

"Everyone gets busy, but don't make excuses. I stay in shape and eat right, and it happened to me.

"Another year and I could have been in big trouble."

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the UK. Each year around 45,000 women are diagnosed with the disease, and 10,000 die from it.

Despite this, around one in three women in the UK fail to turn up for breast cancer screening when invited. Mammograms are available to all women in the UK aged between 50 and 70 every three years, and save the lives of an estmated 1400 women every year.

Dr Mindy Nagle, a friend of Navratilova's has said her prognosis is excellent. "It was the best-case scenario you could imagine for detecting breast cancer."

This article was published on Thu 8 April 2010

Image © Getty Images

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