The Drs: Actress Robin Givens Breast Cancer Screening & Mammogram


The Doctors: Robin Givens On Sister’s Death

Actress Robin Givens is known for her roles in comedies, but she joined the show to open up about a very serious, personal experience. Robin revealed that she lost her sister two years ago. Her sister wasn’t feeling well and when she visited the doctor, she was told she had a virus and to come back in a week. She went back a week later on a Thursday, and her white blood cell count was so low that she was rushed to the hospital. Friday afternoon she was diagnosed with cancer and Sunday morning she was gone. Robin didn’t make it back in time to say goodbye.


Robin shared that her sister was healthy, active, and seemed like she was in perfect health, which made it all the more shocking. When her sister had gone for a mammogram, doctors thought they had seen something suspicious, but it was just months later than she passed away. Dr Jennifer Ashton reported that there are approximately 250,000 new cases of breast cancer diagnosed in the U.S. every year. The medical community has gotten really good at treating most cases of breast cancer, but women are still dying from breast cancer.

The Drs: Actress Robin Givens Breast Cancer Screening & Mammogram

Actress Robin Givens opened up about the death of her sister before giving viewers an inside look at breast cancer screening. (maf04 / Flickr)

Robin also shared that she learned there are different types of breast cancer, and her sister had the most aggressive type.


The Doctors: Breast Exam & Mammogram

Because genetics play a role in breast cancer and Robin was due for a mammogram, she went to see breast specialist Dr Kristi Funk. Dr Funk explained that having a first-degree relative who was diagnosed with breast cancer, automatically doubles your risk.  Robin hadn’t been tested for the BRCA gene mutation, and Dr Funk wanted to be sure Robin went through all the necessary steps to stay on top of her own health.

The first step is observation, in which Dr Funk and Robin looked at Robin’s breasts to notice if they’re symmetrical or if there’s an area that’s red. They also looked for skin dimpling or thickening. Dr Funk then felt for lumps to see if there was anything in one breast that didn’t show up in the other. She also checked Robin’s armpit lymph nodes and looked for discharge. Robin then underwent a mammogram, in which Dr Funk looked for symmetry in areas of patchy whiteness and dark areas. She took that mammogram and compared it to mammograms from past years to look for any changes. The good news is that Dr Funk found nothing of concern!

The good news is that Robin is spreading awareness about an important issue and hopefully encouraging women to get screened for cancer in order to detect an issue early.

The Doctors: Ultrasound For Dense Tissue Breast Cancer Screening

Dr Funk then explained that an ultrasound sees things differently than an MRI does. Dr Funk likes to use all available techniques for those who are higher risk, including those with denser breasts. If you have dense breasts, because both dense breast tissue and cancer appear white on a mammogram, it can be a lot harder to detect. That’s why, in those cases, often times an ultrasound will be used. Because Robin’s breasts were diagnosed as a “C” on a scale from A-D in terms of density, Dr Funk wanted to take a closer look using ultrasound. Ultrasound sees breast tissue as white but cancer as black, which makes it much easier to spot.

Dr Funk then explained that either on your mom or dad’s side, when looking at first, second, and third degree relatives, have two or more relatives with breast cancer before the age of 50 or ovarian cancer at any age, you should test for a genetic predisposition to breast cancer. If you’ve personally had a triple negative breast cancer, you should test as well. If you have a strong family history of cancer in general, it’s a good idea to go ahead and get tested. Robin pointed out the importance of accepting that it’s okay to be scared or nervous, but it’s so important to find out what’s going on with your body to rule out any issues.


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