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Sheryl Crow Treated for Breast Cancer

Singer Had 'Minimally Invasive' Surgery
By
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Feb. 27, 2006 -- Singer Sheryl Crow is being treated for breast cancer.

Crow underwent "successful minimally invasive surgery for breast cancer" on Feb. 22, states the singer's web site. "Her doctors confirm her prognosis as excellent and she will receive radiation treatment as a precaution," the site states.

The web site doesn't give the details of Crow's cancer or surgery.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer among U.S. women, except for nonmelanoma skin cancers. Breast cancer is also the No. 2 cause of cancer deaths for U.S. women, behind lung cancer. But breast cancer survival has been improving, according to the American Cancer Society.

Crow's Statement

On her web site, Crow mentions that there are more than two million breast cancer survivors in the U.S.

"We are a testament to the importance of early detection and new treatments," Crow states. "I encourage women everywhere to advocate for themselves and for their future -- see your doctor and be proactive about your health."

Crow is 44 years old. The American Cancer Society recommends annual mammograms for all average-risk women age 40 and older. Crow's web site doesn't mention how her cancer was detected.

The "minimally invasive" surgery that Crow got was likely lumpectomy, also called breast-conserving surgery. In that procedure, doctors remove only the breast lump and a small amount of surrounding tissue, leaving the rest of the breast intact.

Radiation Treatment

Radiation therapy is used after surgery to target any lingering cancer cells. Radiation treatment uses high-energy X-rays or other types of radiation to kill cancer cells.

Radiation treatments generally start several weeks after surgery, once the area has had time to heal. Patients usually get small daily doses of radiation over a period of several days to several weeks.

Radiation's side effects include skin reactions, such as temporary redness and sensitivity. Long-term side effects may include a slight darkening of the skin, enlarged pores on the breast, change in the skin's sensitivity, a thickening of breast tissue or skin, and a change in the breast's size.

Patients frequently feel fatigued, to varying degrees, during radiation treatment. Getting enough rest, eating healthfully, and pacing activities can help cope with the fatigue.

Early Detection Is Key

Chemotherapy is also often used to treat breast cancer. However, Crow's statement doesn't mention chemotherapy.

The earlier that breast cancer is found, the sooner treatment can start, which can improve survival.

Since early detection is so important, it's crucial to get recommended screenings and to see a doctor about any lumps in the breasts. Most breast lumps aren't cancer, but it takes proper testing to be sure.

The American Cancer Society recommends that women at average risk of cancer get a clinical breast exam at least every three years, starting in their 20s, and get an annual mammogram starting at 40. Medical providers should inform and can instruct women on breast self-exams, which are optional, according to the American Cancer Society.

The CDC's mammography recommendations are slightly different. The CDC recommends that women age 40 and older get a mammogram every one or two years, with or without a clinical breast exam.

Women at higher risk for cancer may need to start screening earlier.

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