‘I feel very happy’: Tennis star Chris Evert reveals early diagnosis of ovarian cancer

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Former world number one Chris Evert spoke about her diagnosis of first-degree ovarian cancer.

The 67-year-old American champion revealed that she is currently on six-week chemotherapy and added: “I feel very happy that she was caught early and I expect positive results from my chemotherapy plan.”

In an article on ESPN, Evert said they found a malignant tumor during a preventive hysterectomy last month.

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Chris Evert, pictured in 1977, won 18 Grand Slam titles. Image: AP

It comes after her younger sister, former professional tennis player Jeanne Evert Dubin, died of ovarian cancer in 2020 at the age of 62. Her sister’s cancer had spread before it was discovered as she had no noticeable symptoms.

Similarly, Evert said, “I couldn’t believe it. I practiced, did CrossFit, played tennis. I didn’t feel anything different.”

Evert said watching her sister treat herself is “devastating and traumatizing”.

She added: “When I go to chemotherapy, she is my inspiration.

“I’ll think of her. And she’ll get me through.”

In the years since Jeanne’s diagnosis, genetic testing has evolved, so Evert, when she sent her blood for testing, revealed that she has a pathogenic version of the BRCA1 gene.

After talking to a doctor, she had a hysterectomy in early December – that’s when the cancer was discovered.

The Evert family in 1972 - Jeanne is first in line, second from the right and Chris is at the far left
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The Evert family in 1972 – Jeanne is first in line, second from the right and Chris is at the far left

“70-80% of ovarian cancers are diagnosed at stage 3 or 4,” said her surgeon, Dr. Joel Cardenas.

“In about three months, it would be grade 3 or 4. If nothing is done, it gets to the abdomen.”

In an article written by her friend Chris McKendry, Evert said she decided to share her diagnosis to try to help others.

“Ovarian cancer is a very deadly disease. Any information is power,” she said.

Dr Cardenas said the key to early diagnosis – and consequently better prognosis – is to follow exams and know your family history.

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“Ovarian cancer is rare,” he said. “However, if the patient has a family history, we encourage genetic testing and counseling.”

Evert has won 18 Grand Slam titles in her career individually and is now a television station covering the sport for ESPN. She will occasionally appear from home during the Australian Open coverage.

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