Chris Evert Illness: How She Was Diagnosed and What Happened Next?
In the 1970s and 1980s, Chris Evert was the best woman tennis player. Her record in singles play is the best of any professional player in history, male or female. But her hardest match was against ovarian cancer, which is often called “the silent killer.” Evert talked with Amna Nawaz about her journey, her health, and what was coming next.
Have you heard that Chris Evert is sick? How did they figure out what was wrong with her, and what happened next? Read this piece to learn about the tennis great’s journey to better health.
Chris Evert Illness: What Happened to Her?
In January 2022, tennis star Chris Evert told the world that she had ovarian cancer. Evert’s cancer was found after she had a hysterectomy to be safe. In February 2020, her sister Jeanne Evert Dubin also died of the same disease.
Evert said this in an ESPN story she and her friend Chris McKendry wrote together. Evert tweeted about her diagnosis after the story came out.
She said, “I wanted to share my stage 1 ovarian cancer diagnosis and the story behind it as a way to help others. I feel very lucky that they caught it early [and] expect positive results from my chemo plan.”
— Chris Evert (@ChrissieEvert) January 15, 2022
In the story, Evert said that after her sister Jeanne Evert Dubin died of ovarian cancer, she had genetic tests done. After Dubin was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, she had a genetic test. The test showed that she did not have any dangerous versions of the BRCA1 gene, which can be a sign of risk for some cancers, including ovarian cancer. Because of this, no one in her family was told to get checked.
But genetic testing has changed since Dubin was diagnosed, and a change in her BRCA1 gene has been linked to a higher chance of ovarian cancer. So, in October 2021, the news was told to the Evert family over the phone.
That made Evert want to get checked, and when she did, she found out that she, too, had a bad version of the BRCA1 gene. She set up a preventive hysterectomy for the beginning of December. The uterus was taken out.
But Evert said that the lab report from her surgery showed that she had cancerous cells and a tumor that started in her left fallopian tube. She had another surgery on December 13, 2021, and then she had to wait to find out what happened. She said, “The longest three days of my life.”
Evert was diagnosed with stage 1C ovarian cancer. She finished her treatment in May 2022 and now she is cancer-free, and there is a better than 90% chance that her cancer won’t come back.
After seeing this, it makes sense to have some questions about ovarian cancer. Doctors explained everything.
What is Ovarian Cancer?
Cancer of the ovaries is known as ovarian cancer. The ovaries are reproductive cells that make eggs. Most of the time, ovarian cancer kills. Ovarian cancer kills more women than any other cancer of the reproductive system. It is the fifth most dangerous cancer in women.
Americans for Cancer Research. Important Facts About Ovarian Cancer. Jack Jacoub, MD, a medical oncologist and medical director of the MemorialCare Cancer Institute at Orange Coast Medical Center in Fountain Valley, California, told Health that this is because ovarian cancer is usually found at a later stage.
What is Stage 1C Ovarian Cancer?
Stages one through four are often used to describe cancer, but Dr. Jacoub said that ovarian cancer is a little different. In general, the number shows how far the cancer has grown.
There are a lot of nuances to the staging of ovarian cancer, which includes staging A, B, and C based on the ovaries involved.
Stage 1A means that the cancer is only in one ovary and that ovary is where the cancer is. In stage 1B, both ovaries are affected, but the cancer is not on the outside.
Stage 1C means that the cancer is on the outside of one or both ovaries, that the tissue around the tumor is broken, or that cancer cells were found in the fluid in the belly and pelvis.
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Cancer in the Family and Genetic Testing
Robert Wenham, MD, chair of the Department of Gynecologic Oncology at Moffitt Cancer Center, told Health that most people can get genetic testing if a close family member (like a parent or sister) has a certain type of cancer.
“The risk of having an inherited predisposition for cancer does depend upon the type of cancer,” Dr. Wenham said. “It should be stressed that most cancers are sporadic, meaning they develop without a known genetic predisposition.”
But, Dr. Wenham said, some DNA mutations that can cause cancer are passed down from parent to child. This makes a person more likely to get cancer. Dr. Jacoub said that cancer patients are often given genetic tests to find out if their genes played a role in their cancer. This can help family members figure out what to do next.
Stephen C. Rubin, MD, professor in the Department of Surgical Oncology at Fox Chase Cancer Center, told Health that patients with a worrying family history of cancer should be directed to a genetic counselor to learn more about their family history and think about testing.
Dr. Wenham said that this is very important for people with ovarian cancer. “For ovarian cancer, approximately one in five will have an inherited predisposition,” Dr. Wenham said.
Stage 1C Ovarian Cancer Treatment
The tumor, uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries are typically removed during surgery. Usually, the next steps depend on the stage of cancer. In stage 1C, chemotherapy is usually suggested. Three to six cycles of carboplatin and paclitaxel are used in chemotherapy.
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