Katie Couric Shares Breast Cancer Journey
Longtime television journalist Katie Couric announced she has been diagnosed with breast cancer in a Sept. 28, 2022, post on her website.
"June 21, 2022, was the first day of summer, my 8th wedding anniversary, and the day I found out I had breast cancer," wrote Couric, founder of Katie Couric Media.
Couric has been an outspoken proponent of cancer screenings since her former husband, Jay Monahan, died of colon cancer in 1998. So she was shocked when her doctor told her she hadn't had a mammogram since 2020 and was six months overdue for routine screening.
"Wait, what? How could that be? Had the pandemic given me a skewed sense of time? Had it messed with my memory?" Couric wrote.
She's not alone. The COVID-19 pandemic led to a significant drop in cancer screenings for both men and women.
Couric scheduled a mammogram right away, and on June 20 headed to the radiologist, planning to film the procedure and share it later with her audience, according to her post. In 2000, during her tenure at the "Today" show, her colonoscopy aired live on national television, and colonoscopy screenings shot up by 20 percent as a result. Couric hoped for a similar effect with her mammogram.
Couric received a 3D mammogram, which provides more images and a clearer picture than traditional 2D screening mammograms. This version creates a more accurate view of the breast for clinicians and can lead to earlier diagnosis. Women with dense breasts, which can make mammography more difficult, have a higher risk of breast cancer. Couric has dense breasts, and she received a breast ultrasound as additional screening, her post stated.
After the ultrasound was complete, the physician asked Couric to stop filming. In her post, Couric explained what happened next:
- A surgical biopsy to extract a sample of tissue.
- A text from her doctor asking her to call back right away.
- A phone call with the dreaded news: "It's cancer."
"I felt sick and the room started to spin," Couric wrote. "What does this mean? Will I need a mastectomy? Will I need chemo? What will the next weeks, months, even years look like?"
In the coming days, Couric learned she had hormone receptor-positive, Her2neu-negative breast cancer, which her doctor described as highly treatable, particularly if detected early. Fortunately, Couric was diagnosed with stage 1A cancer and did not need chemotherapy. In July, she underwent a lumpectomy to preserve her breast, followed by several weeks of radiation. She will need to be on medication—an aromatase inhibitor—for the next five years, according to her post.
"Yesterday was my final round [of radiation]," Couric wrote. "My left breast does look like I've been sunbathing topless, but other than that, I've felt fine."
Couric shared such a detailed account of her experience because she believes it's a teachable moment that could help save someone's life.
"Please get your annual mammogram. 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," Couric wrote.
If you're due (or overdue) for a mammogram, schedule an appointment today. And speak with your doctor if you have dense breasts or other risk factors, as additional screening may be necessary.