Wanda Sykes Tells Ellen DeGeneres She Had Breast Cancer, Double Mastectomy

Fri Sep 23, 2011 6:26am EDT

Comedienne and "Curb Your Enthusiasm" star Wanda Sykes tells Ellen DeGeneres on Monday's "Ellen" show that a decision earlier this year to have a breast reduction surgery may have saved her life.

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Sykes tells DeGeneres that while lab work was being performed after her breast reduction, doctors discovered she had DCIS (ductal carcinoma in situ), a stage zero cancer, which prompted her to opt for a bilateral mastectomy, or a double mastectomy, to head off any further development of the disease. The procedure is the same surgery "Up All Night" star Christina Applegate underwent in 2008 after being diagnosed with breast cancer and testing positive for BRCA, the "breast cancer gene."

"Do you want to wait and not be as fortunate when it comes back and it's too late?" Sykes said.

"I was very, very lucky. I had the choice of, you can go back every three months and get it checked. Have a mammogram, MRI every three months just to see what it's doing. But I'm not good at keeping on top of stuff. I'm sure I'm overdue for an oil change and a teeth cleaning already. I have a lot of breast cancer history on my mother's side of the family, which I didn't know about."

Sykes, who's currently on a stand-up comedy tour and will perform at the New York Comedy Festival in November, joked to DeGeneres that she kept her cancer diagnosis hush hush -- the "Ellen" show appearance is the first time she's discussed it publicly -- because she didn't want to become the cancer "poster child."

"How many things could I have? I'm black, then lesbian," she joked. "I can't be the poster child for everything! At least with the LGBT issues we get a parade, we get a float, it's a party. I was real hesitant about doing this because, I hate walking. I got a lot of walks coming up!"

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