LAS VEGAS – March 31, 2016 – Las Vegas voice teacher LaDonna Young has always been diligent about her yearly mammograms. At 77-years-old, she knew the importance of checkups, but wasn’t prepared for a cancer diagnosis.
“My annual mammogram showed two calcification spots,” she said. “I was under a bit of anxiety because I didn’t know what was happening. There was no breast cancer in my family; my mother had a form of endometrial cancer, but not breast cancer. I was surprised.”
Young was diagnosed with ductal carcinoma in situ, an early stage, non-invasive breast cancer.
The diagnosis is relatively common, yet the nature of the disease is far less understood than invasive breast cancers. The majority of early stage breast cancers, or 83 percent, is ductal carcinoma in situ. Called DCIS, this cancer occurs when abnormal cells develop in the breast ducts. The cells appear similar to those of invasive breast cancer, but do not spread to other organs because they are contained within the layer of cells where they originate.
The most common treatment for DCIS is breast-conservation surgery combined with radiation. However, treatment strategies vary among physicians, ranging from nonsurgical treatments to mastectomy. Though this condition is highly curable, more research is needed to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of different treatments against the risk of reoccurrence.
Young, in consultation with her oncologists, opted for surgery to remove the tumor, followed by a five-day course of radiation.
“There are many different thoughts about DCIS, I could’ve just waited and watched it,” Young says. “But I believe cancer is a disease that has to be dealt with. I was able to have more of a choice, which makes a big difference in how I mentally reacted to it. I feel like it’s a protection for me.”
“While there is still room for research into what makes DCIS develop into a more serious disease in some patients but not others, the primary goal of treatment remains to prevent invasive breast cancer recurrences,” said Tam Nguyen, M.D., Board Certified Radiation Oncologist with 21st Century Oncology and one of Young’s physicians. “No single approach is appropriate for all patients. It’s important to discuss the benefits and limitations of all treatment options when determining a treatment plan.”
Three weeks after her diagnosis, Young’s treatment had been completed.
“I honestly felt that having a root canal was more uncomfortable than cancer treatment,” she said. “I thought that 21st Century Oncology had wonderful people. They were kind and treated me well. When you’re in that situation, you really do want that caring bedside manner. It was a really positive experience.”
Young is back to teaching students at her music school and is preparing one of her students for an audition at Juilliard. She is a big proponent of early detection and tells her friends and family members how important it is to get mammograms.
“I think a woman is responsible for her health and she should have a mammogram every year,” Young says. “I’ve heard some of my friends say it’s so painful, but what's the alternative? I tell them just get in there. Just get in there and get it done.”
For more information about our services, visit www.21co.com/lasvegas or call (702) 894-5151.
About 21st Century Oncology:
21st Century Oncology is the largest global, physician led provider of Integrated Cancer Care services. The company offers a comprehensive range of cancer treatment services, focused on delivering academic quality, cost-effective patient care in personal and convenient settings. As of September 30, 2015, the company operated 182 treatment centers, including 146 centers located in 17 states and 36 centers located in seven countries in Latin America. The company holds market-leading positions in most of its domestic local markets and abroad.