Giuliana Rancic has Breast Cancer: The Mammogram Issue

Giuliana Rancic, the 36-year-old host of “E! News” and “Fashion Police” announced on the “Today Show” that she has early stage breast cancer.

The cancer was discovered on a mammogram she had at the insistence of her infertility specialist, according to an article in Boston Globe. Unless there is a particularly high risk of breast cancer, mammograms are generally not recommended for women under the age of 40.

Globe writer Deborah Kotz wonders if Rancic’s case may encourage other young women to insist on mammograms, and if that’s a good idea. Here’s an excerpt from her article:

“While Rancic was lucky, her urging women to get screened, as she did this morning, requires some qualifications. Mammograms are known to be particularly poor imaging tools for finding tumors in young women; thatís because women in their 30s tend to have denser breast tissue that looks similar to a tumor, which is also dense. Often mammograms miss significant tumors in those under 40 and even more commonly, they find a host of abnormalities that turn out not to be cancer.

“Iím worried, though, that women may be swayed more by Rancicís powerful story than the faceless, emotionless science.”

Ms. Kotz presents a fascinating question, so I reached out to Dr. Diane Radford, Surgical Oncologist at Mercy Clinic St. Louis Cancer & Breast Institute. She was quick to urge that women consider individual circumstances.

“As with everything, we have to make decisions based on evidence, not emotions,” Dr. Radford cautions. “We have to balance potential good versus potential harm. It’s important too, to differentiate a screening mammogram (done for an asymptomatic woman) from a diagnostic mammogram (if there are symptoms, a mass, pain, discharge etc).

“We know that the female breast is very sensitive to radiation before the age of 30; survivors of the atomic bomb blasts in Hiroshima and Nagasaki who were less than 30 at exposure, had a much higher incidence of breast cancer than expected. I recommend the American Cancer Society guidelines for breast cancer screening (for asymptomatic women).

“If a woman presents with symptoms, then appropriate imaging should be done, including mammograms, ultrasound and MRI as deemed necessary. When symptoms are present, a woman is no longer in the “screening” population. I will generally order an ultrasound for those under age 30.”

Dr. Michael Musci, medical oncologist from Ironwood Cancer & Research Centers agrees.

“It is not standard practice to screen women under 40 years of age because the sensitivity of mammograms in this age group is not optimal. Testing based on genetic risk factors or those with clinical concerns (most commonly a palpable mass or strong family history) makes sense because in a higher risk patient, testing is more likely to find breast cancer.

“Any test, even self breast exam, should be reviewed with your physician with some discussion of the limitations to avoid unnecessary surgery for benign lesions. Aggressive testing in low risk populations can increase the number of biopsies and surgeries on healthy women.”

As for Giuliana, I’m sure she’s very grateful that her breast cancer was caught on a mammogram while still in the early stages. Her high public profile means that she’s already helping to initiate conversation between women, their families, and their physicians. That’s a good thing.

From one breast cancer survivor to another, I wish you well, Giuliana. I hope you find the care and support you need and that your dreams of motherhood come true. Yours is a powerful story, and you have a lot of living left to do.

More Powerful Breast Cancer Stories
Carmelita P: Grieving Son Recounts Mom’s Battle with Triple-Negative Breast Cancer
Nancy Steiler: Searching for “Normal” After Cancer
Eileen Z. Fuentes: Living with a Grateful Vibration
Meagan Farrell: Cancer Survivor Says “Let Go of the Little Stuff”
Melissa Stukenborg: When Worst Fear Becomes Reality, Find Your Inner Strength

What would you do if you found a lump in your breast?
Breast Cancer Awareness: Taking it Personally
Man with Breast Cancer says, “Don’t be embarrassed…it’s too important”
Living with Triple-Negative Breast Cancer Series
Video: What is Triple-Negative Breast Cancer?

Photo credit: This work is in the public domain in the United States

Ann Pietrangelo is the author of “No More Secs! Living, Laughing & Loving Despite Multiple Sclerosis.” She is a member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors and a regular contributor to Care2 Healthy & Green Living and Care2 Causes. Follow on Twitter @AnnPietrangelo


Diane L.
Diane L6 years ago

Very well written article! Thank you.

Robert Garvin, if your daughter says her mammogran "really hurt", she either has a very low threshold for being "uncomfortable", or the technician was incompetent. Mammograms are not fun, and yes,they are UNCOMFORTABLE, but they shouldn't hurt! It also depends on where it's done. Until recently (and I'm 69 so have been getting them for a long time now, since my sister had breast cancer and I'm 35% higher risk), the newer facilities aren't kept icy cold and the equipment is much more "high tech", and easier for the technician to get in focus without the constant pushing, shoving & squishing of the breasts. Last one I had was a "piece of cake", actually.

Yes, for any woman to not get one, they're putting their heads in the sand. I worked with a woman that kept putting it off far into her 60's and said she'd do it, but wasn't "ready" yet. Last time we had a company re-union, we got the news......she'd passed away, and apparently from breast cancer (age 71).

Darlene, "thermography" is not available at most places, and I did ask about it last time. The facility was only a year old and the tech said she's heard about it, but it was NOT routinely offered or even available.

Robert Garvin
Robert Garvin6 years ago

I forgot to mention that the greatest improvement in cancer treatment in the last 40 years is mostly technique. They have been using the Poison, burn and chop method all this time. Nutrition is in fact the greatest deterrent to disease but we humans would rather leave the responsibility of our health to someone else instead of ourselves. We can then blame the Doctor or anyone else but ourselves. It is OUR responsibility for OUR health.
One of my "daughters" had a Mammogram just recently and it REALLY HURT. She is now prepared to look at alternatives but before she considered that Dad's ideas were just some fad. Why is it that most folks only start to look for something to fix the challenge AFTER they find they have a problem instead of making sure it doesn't happen in the first place? OK, I was just as stupid myself and derided anyone who was "fanatical" about food. The proof of the information mentioned before is in the thousands of lives changed from sickness to vibrant health WITHOUT any great effort or cost. It really is quite simple. I'll put it here again.
Enjoy your life and pass the information on to others so they can enjoy life too with just a little education and effort.

Robert Garvin
Robert Garvin6 years ago

It is about time that educators were taught to educate our children about the proper understanding of digestion. We are told that we need to have a good balanced meal at least once per day. This is very good BUT we are not told that when we mix certain foods together that there is a problem created in the digestive system that causes a highly acidic situation in the body.
Cancer (and other disease situations) can only grow in an acidic environment. It takes the same amount of effort to prepare an Alkaline Producing diet as it does for an Acidic.

We are told that "God forgives". That may be so but our stomachs are totally unforgiving. If you mix Acid and Alkaline together, they neutralise each other and the proper digestion just does not happen and that creates an Acidic environment for disease to grow in. To learn more about this and to be properly educated about the body, go to this site and get the information that can change the way we think (sometimes quite humerous) and start heading towards a better and basically sick free life. (can also be a fat free life too) I lost 7 kilos in just 3 weeks and became less of the man I used to be. (ha ha) and felt a whole lot better than before.
There is even information that can stop the situation of the Breast Cancer situation developing at all. You will need to read the emails that are sent out on a regular basis. The practice of the information is what works. Not the information

Lorna M.
Lorna M6 years ago

Right on, Christa. I couldn't have said it better myself.

Christa Leduc
Christa Leduc6 years ago

A mammogram is outdated harmful technology and the radiation does more harm than good. So is chemotherpay and radiation treatment. Cancer is not a monster it is an overload of the system of toxins around us and in us from the food we eat. The CURE for cancer is to get the harmful chenicals out of our enviroment and foods supplies.
Cancer can be avoided and cured by changing to a RAW organic vegan diet and wheatgrass juice, avoid all processed food, sugars, fat, alcohol, caffein and you can heal without any traditional treatment. I am living proof of that.
Cancer is big business for the pharmaceuticals and the medical profession. I am grateful that I listened to my own gut feelings and did my own research on how to cure breast cancer.

Rita White
Rita White6 years ago

thanks for the post

Maria Cristina A.
Maria Cristina A6 years ago

I think that drawing a line for the age when women's physical conditions make it easier to check if they are developing breast cancer or not is strictly a economically based attitude.
The fact is that they don't want to do it because they can get a percentage of false negatives or false positives. This would mean that the exam would have to be thourough, even if it didn't have to be agressive. But above all, the fact is that those exams to o many women would have a total cost with several digits.

This is counting pennies over women's health. And men's too, they also have breast cancer - not many, but they do.

I've had mammo's and ultrasounds to test my breasts for cancer since I was 35.

And I thank to God it happened that way.

sandra m.
Past Member 6 years ago


Sandy Erickson
Sandy Erickson6 years ago

An ouce of prevention is worth a pound of cure...there are things that woman should be doing to PREVENT cancer not just trying to catch it in time...had a friend that just had surgery with only pre cancer cells present...she refered to cancer as a 'monster'. Cancer is not a monster it is an over load of the system of toxins around us and in us. The CURE for cancer is to get the harmful chenicals out of our enviroment and foods supplies,love more and stress less.

Darlene B.
shawn arscott6 years ago

I would have advised thermography and because of her young age alternative treatment. A mammogram is outdated harmful technology. So is chemotherpay and radiation. Time to move forward.