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Giuliana Rancic To Undergo Double Mastectomy: What Are The Challenges?

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The Huffington Post   First Posted: 12/05/11 12:47 PM ET Updated: 12/14/11 05:10 PM ET

UPDATE AS OF DEC. 14: E! News reports that Giuliana Rancic is doing well after her double mastectomy, and that the surgery was successful. She also underwent reconstructive surgery after the mastectomy.

"G is doing really well," Rancic's husband, Bill, told E! News. "Her surgery lasted about four hours and the doctors were very pleased with the result."

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UPDATE AS OF DEC. 6: E! has released a statement to The Hollywood Reporter regarding Giuliana Rancic's decision to undergo a double mastectomy, saying that "we admire her courage and are proud to stand by her side through every step on her path to full recovery."

The Hollywood Reporter also said that the E! News host's last day on air before her double mastectomy will be Dec. 12, and that she will take two weeks off after undergoing the surgery to allow time for healing.

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Giuliana Rancic, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in October, announced on NBC's TODAY show that she will undergo a double mastectomy after learning that previous treatments did not work to completely rid her body of cancer.

Rancic told TODAY anchor Ann Curry that her desire to have children was a big part of her decision to have a double mastectomy. She had previously undergone a double lumpectomy (where just the tumor is surgically taken out of the breast, so that the entire breast does not have to be removed) but it was not completely successful.

"If I had chosen to just do another lumpectomy and then do radiation and then do anti-estrogen therapy, which means two to five years of medication, that basically puts me into early menopause, then I would have to put off having a baby for several years," Rancic said on TODAY. "So that was something we took into account. But to be honest, at the end it all came down to was just choosing to live and not looking over my shoulder for the rest of my life."

NBC Washington reported that if she had just had another lumpectomy, with radiation and anti-estrogen therapy, the chance of cancer returning could be as high as 40 percent, while a mastectomy would reduce the chance to less than 1 percent.

Christina Applegate, star of NBC's "Up All Night," also underwent a double mastectomy in 2008 in order to prevent the return of breast cancer. Actress Wanda Sykes also underwent a double mastectomy earlier this year because of breast cancer.

Mastectomy, or surgical removal of the breast or breasts, can be done both preventively -- for women who know they have a high risk of breast cancer, and don't want to take any chances -- or, in Rancic's case, as a treatment for breast cancer.

During a mastectomy, doctors remove all breast tissue from the breast. A doctor may recommend mastectomy over lumpectomy and radiation if a person has breast cancer has returned after previous radiation treatments, if you're pregnant and you can't undergo radiation, if you have a high genetic risk for returning breast cancer, if you have more than one tumor in different areas in the breast, or if you have an extremely large tumor that doesn't leave behind much healthy tissue, among other reasons, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Preventive mastectomy, also known as prophylactic or risk-reducing mastectomy, can decrease the risk of developing breast cancer by up to 90 percent, according to the National Cancer Institute.

There are a few different types of mastectomy; one type, called modified radical mastectomy, involves removal of the entire breast, meaning the tissue, areola, skin and nipple are removed, as well as part of the chest wall. Less radical mastectomies include simple mastectomy, where part of the chest wall is not removed; skin-sparing mastectomy, where the breast skin is not removed; and nipple-sparing mastectomy, where only the breast tissue is removed, according to the Mayo Clinic.

After a mastectomy, some women choose to undergo plastic surgery to reconstruct their breasts using breast implants and/or the women's own tissue, the Mayo Clinic reported. Women should talk to their doctors to find out if and what kind of reconstruction is right for them, the National Cancer Institute said.

The Daily Beast reported back in 2008 that only around 40 percent of people who undergo a mastectomy have their breasts reconstructed, though the National Center for Health Statistics does not track the actual rates of breast reconstruction.

Check out these other inspiring people, along with Rancic, who have received a breast cancer diagnosis in the past:

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  • Giuliana Rancic

    The 36-year-old "E! News" host announced in October on<a href="" target="_hplink"> NBC's Today show</a> that she has breast cancer, and that she was alerted to the cancer via a mammogram during her third in vitro fertilization attempt. "Through my attempt to get pregnant for the third time, we sadly found out that I have early stages of breast cancer," she said <a href="" target="_hplink">on the Today show</a>. "It's been a shock. A lot of people have been asking, we saw that you went and got IVF, are you pregnant? But sadly, we've had to put that off." Rancic underwent a double lumpectomy and removal of several of her lymph nodes, but Rancic later went on the TODAY show in December to say that the cancer was not completely cleared by those treatments and that she will <a href="" target="_hplink">undergo a double mastectomy</a>.

  • Wanda Sykes

    In an interview with Ellen DeGeneres aired last month, Wanda Sykes revealed that she had been <a href="" target="_hplink">diagnosed with breast cancer</a> and underwent a double mastectomy. "I had breast cancer. Yeah, I know it's scary," Sykes said in the interview. "This was in February. I went for the reduction. I had real big boobs and I just got tired of knocking over stuff. Every time I eat ... Oh lord. I'd carry a Tide stick everywhere I go. My back was sore so it was time to have a reduction." After the reduction, the pathology report found ductal carcinoma in situ in her left breast, which prompted Skykes, who has a <a href=",,20531010,00.html" target="_hplink">family history of breast cancer</a>, to opt for a double mastectomy. And while the diagnosis is scary, she hasn't lost her <a href="" target="_hplink">signature humor</a>. "I was like, 'I don't know, should I talk about it or what?' How many things could I have? I'm black, then lesbian. I can't be the poster child for everything ... At least with the LGBT issues we get a parade, we get a float, it's a party. [But] I was real hesitant about doing this, because I hate walking. I got a lot of [cancer] walks coming up."

  • Elizabeth Edwards

    Elizabeth Edwards was first diagnosed with breast cancer just hours after her husband and presidential-hopeful John Kerry conceded their election -- she had originally noticed a lump in her breast during the campaign. She continued to fight the disease on and off until she passed away in December 2010, after learning that the cancer had spread to her liver. Her family asked that, in lieu of flowers, <a href="" target="_hplink">donations be made</a> to the <a href="" target="_hplink">Wade Edwards Foundation</a>, which was founded in honor of Edwards' son, Wade, who died in a car crash at the age of 16.

  • Christina Applegate

    In 2008, actress Christina Applegate shared in a "Good Morning America" interview that she had been <a href="" target="_hplink">dagnosed with breast cancer</a> at the age of 36 -- she also opted for a bilateral mastectomy instead of radiation or chemotherapy. "I didn't want to go back to the doctors every four months for testing and squishing and everything. I just wanted to kind of get rid of this whole thing for me. This was the choice that I made and it was a tough one," she said <a href="" target="_hplink">in the interview</a>. "Sometimes, you know, I cry. And sometimes I scream. And I get really angry. And I get really upset, you know, into wallowing in self-pity sometimes. And I think that it's all part of the healing." Perhaps the best healing of all came earlier this year when Applegate gave birth to baby Sadie with musician Martyn LeNoble. "She's healed me in so many ways. She's just made my life so much better. I've been kind of sad for a long time, and she's just opened my whole soul," Applegate <a href=",,20467525,00.html" target="_hplink">told <em>People</em></a> in an exclusive interview this past February.

  • Melissa Etheridge

    In 2005, rock-and-roll artist Etheridge underwent a lumpectomy and five rounds of chemotherapy and radiation to eradicate her breast cancer. "I had been running along in my life at a fast pace. When I heard it was cancer, I just stood still," Etheridge told <em>Shape</em> magazine in a 2009 interview. "My life passed over me like a big wave, and after, I was left there standing. This turned out to be a very good thing. I stopped. I looked at my life, I looked at my body and spirit." In the midst of her treatment, Etheridge found out she was <a href="" target="_hplink">nominated for a Grammy</a> for her song "Breathe" -- and while she wasn't sure she'd make an appearance at first, Etheridge ultimately decided not only to attend, but to perform in a Janis Joplin tribute. Taking to the stage bald and with no eyebrows from chemo, she belted out Joplin's classic, "Piece Of My Heart." "It was very special that I had been presented with a day, that I could come back into this entertainment world, and show everyone that you are back and okay, and thought, okay," Etheridge told <a href="" target="_hplink">MSNBC at the time</a>. "I'm going to do this. And I'm not gonna be afraid of the truth. The truth is, yes I had cancer. Yes, I got it out of me. Yes, I went through chemotherapy. Yes, I'm bald." Check out Etheridge's breast cancer causes on her <a href="" target="_hplink">Pink Rage website</a>.

  • Robin Roberts

    ABC's "Good Morning America" host Robin Roberts was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007. "I never thought I'd be writing this. ... <a href="" target="_hplink">I have breast cancer</a>," she said in a message released by ABC in August 2007. While working on a tribute to her colleague Joel Siegel, who had died from cancer, Robins reported on how key early detection is -- and, taking her own advice, she did a self breast exam and found a lump. "Much as I was hoping the doctor would say it was nothing, she did a biopsy and confirmed that the lump I'd found was indeed an early form of breast cancer," Robins <a href="" target="_hplink">continued in her statement</a>. Robins underwent a partial mastectomy, chemotherapy and radiation. In 2008, she told <em>People</em> magazine that she <a href=",,20238177,00.html" target="_hplink">complemented her regular doctor's visits</a> with acupuncture, exercise and advice from a nutritionist. "Yes, I am living with cancer," she <a href=",,20238177,00.html" target="_hplink">told <em>People</em></a>. "But don't go 'woe is me.' I don't want it. Don't need it. I'm still in the game. I don't want to say 'survivor.' I want to thrive."

  • Kylie Minogue

    Australian singer Minogue was first diagnosed with breast cancer in May 2005 and underwent surgery and chemotherapy treatment. "When you are stripped of everything and you have to grow your eyelashes back, grow your hair back, it's just astonishing," Minogue told British <em>Glamour</em> magazine. "It's hard to express what I've learned from that, but a deep psychological and emotional shift has obviously taken place." This open and honest approach to her diagnosis led Minogue to be voted the <a href="" target="_hplink">most inspirational breast cancer celebrity</a> in an online British-based poll, Reuters reports.

  • Sheryl Crow

    Singer Sheryl Crow was <a href="" target="_hplink">diagnosed with breast cancer</a> in 2006 and, thanks to early detection, underwent a minimally invasive surgery and seven weeks of radiation therapy. Crow told <em>Health</em> magazine that <a href=",,20411904_2,00.html" target="_hplink">she saw a nutritionist</a> when she was first diagnosed and began a diet full of fish, walnuts, colorful vegetables, fiber and healthy spices. "I kept my breast cancer tattoos -- where the radiation was lined up on my chest," Crow told <em>Health</em>. "Once in a while I look at it to remind myself that I have to put on my oxygen mask first before I put it on anybody else." Today, a cancer-free Crow is focused on spreading the message of early detection. In 2010, she <a href="" target="_hplink">founded the Sheryl Crow Center</a> as part of the Pink Lotus Breast Center, which was founded by her own surgeon, ABC News reports.

  • Cynthia Nixon

    In 2008, the "Sex and the City" star went public with her <a href="" target="_hplink">cancer diagnosis</a>, revealing that she found a lump in its early stages and had it removed through radiation, The Huffington Post reported at the time. Nixon wrote in a 2008 <em>Newsweek</em> article that her mother was <a href="" target="_hplink">diagnosed with breast cancer twice</a> -- the first time, Nixon was just 13. "I feel like I have a very <a href="" target="_hplink">concrete story to tell</a>. My story isn't just my story, it mine and my mother's story," the <a href="" target="_hplink">Susan G. Komen for the Cure</a> spokesperson has said.