Skip to content

    Breast Cancer Health Center

    Font Size

    Christina Applegate Seeks Early Detection for Breast Cancer

    Inspired by her own battle with cancer, the actress fights to help young women at high risk for the disease.
    WebMD Feature
    Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

    Cancer didn't catch Christina Applegate unprepared. Because her mother had battled both breast cancer and ovarian cancer, Applegate had been going for regular mammograms since the age of 30. "But when I turned 36, my doctor said that my breasts were just too dense for mammography alone, and he referred me for screening MRIs at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center," she recalls.

    Just a few months before she learned she herself had breast cancer, the actor got a shocking insight into the struggles faced by other young women who are also at high risk for the disease -- and who don't have the resources of a Hollywood celebrity.

    WebMD the Magazine Now Available Online

    The enormous popularity of WebMD the Magazine - previously only read in your doctor's office - is why we're proud to announce the release of WebMD the Magazine Digital Edition.

    In each edition, you will get these features: 

    • Expert beauty tips
    • Healthy recipes
    • Celebrity health stories
    • And much more!

    "After my second MRI, the patient relations woman who'd been taking care of me for years told me that a lot of high-risk young women were opting not to have screening MRIs because they couldn't afford it -- they cost about $3,000 each -- and insurance wouldn't cover it. It really angered me!"

    Less than a year later, in 2008, Applegate -- who had landed the starring role in ABC's comedy series Samantha Who? -- was diagnosed with breast cancer, an early-stage cancer caught with the help of those MRIs. "I was so lucky. I was really diligent about my testing, I never missed a time I was supposed to go," she says. "There was no cancer detected at one three-month visit, and when I went back for another MRI three months later, there it was. The cancer actually became detectable in me within three months. Had I waited six months or a year, who knows how far it would have spread?"

    Right Action for Women

    Determined not to let other young women find out the potentially deadly answer to that question, Applegate -- who is now pregnant, with her fiance, Martyn Lenoble, a Dutch bass player -- was barely out of treatment when she began putting together a new foundation, Right Action for Women (RAW, RAW, an Entertainment Industry Foundation initiative, has raised money and awareness for support programs that provide free or low-cost screening MRIs to younger women who, like Applegate, have a high risk of developing breast cancer because of significant family histories and cancer-causing genetic mutations.

    1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6

    Today on WebMD

    Breast Cancer Overview
    From mammograms to living after treatment.
    Dealing with breast cancer
    Get answers to your questions.
    woman having mammogram
    The 3 latest tips to know.
    woman undergoing breast cancer test
    Most abnormalities aren’t breast cancer.
    Resolved To Quit Smoking
    Breast Cancer Treatments Improving
    Woman getting mammogram
    Screening Tests for Women
    serious woman
    Pink badge on woman chest to support breat cancer
    what is your cancer risk
    breast cancer survivors