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Oncologist says Casey DeSantis' cancer diagnosis puts spotlight on early detection and treatment

dr danielle henry orlando health.png
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

Dr. Danielle Henry with Orlando Health says early detection and treatment improves outcomes for women and men diagnosed with breast cancer at any age. 

Florida's first lady Casey DeSantis, at age 41, has been diagnosed with breast cancer, according to her husband, Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Dr. Danielle Henry, a breast surgical oncologist with the Orlando Health system, says breast cancer in younger women happens, but it’s very rare.

Henry adds that early detection and treatment improves outcomes for women and men diagnosed with breast cancer at any age. 

Henry says that’s why it’s crucial that women, especially Black women who are at risk of being diagnosed with more aggressive breast cancers, get mammograms starting at 40.

“Some of the things that we do see in Black women is that they are diagnosed with a more aggressive form of breast cancer so that definitely can make it more difficult to treat. But the reasons are multifactorial,” Henry says.

Henry says one of the risk factors for this more aggressive form of the disease in Black women can be a genetic mutation that runs in families.

“One of those things that we can see is a BRCA1 mutation and that became something that was widely known about through (actress) Angelina Jolie. She came forward having a BRCA1 mutation. And elected to have the surgery to remove her breast before she even developed breast cancer,” Henry says.

According to the National Institutes of Health's National Cancer Institute, BRCA1 (BReast CAncer gene 1) and BRCA2 (BReast CAncer gene 2) are genes that produce proteins that help repair damaged DNA. Everyone has two copies of each of these genes — one copy inherited from each parent. BRCA1 and BRCA2 are sometimes called tumor suppressor genes because cancer can develop when they have harmful (or pathogenic) mutations.

To find a free mammogram or pap smear near you, call your local health department office.

Copyright 2021 WMFE. To see more, visit WMFE.

Danielle Prieur