Tennis legend Chris Evert reveals her 'cancer is back' less than one year after remission

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Chris Evert announced that her cancer has returned.

Evert shared the news in a statement with ESPN on Friday, Dec. 8.

“Since I was first diagnosed with cancer two years ago, I’ve been very open about my experience. I wanted to give all of you an update. My cancer is back,” Evert wrote in a statement shared by ESPN. “While this is a diagnosis I never wanted to hear, I once again feel fortunate that it was caught early.”

In her message, Evert explained that she underwent a robotic surgery after receiving a PET CT scan. Doctors discovered cancer cells in her pelvic region, which were then removed, before she started chemotherapy again.

“I will be unable to join my colleagues when ESPN makes it return to Melbourne for the Australian Open next month. But I’ll be ready for the rest of the Grand Slam season!” she added in her statement. “I encourage everyone to know your family history and advocate for yourself. Early detection saves lives. Be thankful for your health this holiday season.”

In January 2022, the 68-year-old tennis legend announced that she had been diagnosed with stage 1 ovarian cancer in a statement on social media. At the time, she shared that she felt “very lucky” that her cancer was caught early.

Evert, who won 18 Grand Slam singles titles and three Grand Slam doubles titles during her tennis career, further opened up about her diagnosis in a story for ESPN. She shared that she had a preventative hysterectomy in December 2021 after learning that she had a variant of the BRCA1 gene.

After Evert underwent surgery, a pathology report afterward showed a malignant tumor in her fallopian tube that led to another surgery and chemotherapy to treat stage 1 ovarian cancer.

Evert’s sister, Jeanne Evert Dubin, was also previously diagnosed with ovarian cancer, though hers was found at a later stage. She died in February 2020 from the disease at age 62.

One year after she announced her initial diagnosis, Evert revealed in an op-ed for ESPN that she was “cancer-free” and shared how her sister’s death allowed her to be able to detect her cancer early by providing a “genetic road map.”

Genetic testing revealed that Evert Dubin had a BRCA1 variant. While Evert said initially that her sister's variant was of “uncertain significance,” it was later reclassified as “very clearly pathogenic.”

“It is only because of the genetic road map my sister left behind and the power of scientific progress that we caught my cancer early enough to do something about it,” she wrote at the time. “My doctor said if left undiscovered, in four months' time I would probably have been Stage 3 like Jeanne, with very few options.”

She added, “Instead, I was diagnosed with Stage 1 ovarian cancer, and I immediately began six rounds of chemotherapy.”

What to know about ovarian cancer

For ovarian cancer, treatment works best if it is discovered in its early stages, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Symptoms of ovarian cancer include vaginal bleeding or abnormal vaginal discharge, pain or pressure in the pelvic area, abdominal or back pain, bloating, difficulty eating or feeling full too quickly, as well as a change in bathroom habits, the CDC reports.

While there is no known way to prevent ovarian cancer and no way to know definitively if an individual will be diagnosed, there are risk factors including age, previous cancer diagnoses, having close family members who have been diagnosed, and genetic mutations.

The CDC reports that women have BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, but only 1 in every 500 women in the United States has a mutation of those genes. While not every woman with a BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation will be diagnosed with breast or ovarian cancer, the mutations put women at an increased risk for those cancers.

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