Maria Menounos Reveals Battle Against Stage 2 Pancreatic Cancer
WEDNESDAY, May 3, 2023 (HealthDay News) -- Celebrity host Maria Menounos, who will become a mother this summer, revealed this week that she recently underwent surgery for pancreatic cancer.
The podcast host was diagnosed with stage 2 pancreatic cancer in January, a discovery made after she had episodes of intense abdominal pain.
Surgeons removed a 3.9-centimeter tumor and part of Menounos’ pancreas, along with her spleen, a fibroid and 17 lymph nodes in February, People magazine reported.
"I need people to know there are places they can go to catch things early," Menounos, 44, told People. "You can't let fear get in the way. I had that moment where I thought I was a goner -- but I'm okay because I caught this early enough."
The former E! News correspondent and her husband, Keven Undergaro, are expecting a baby girl this summer after years of trying to become parents.
This isn’t her first major health issue. She had a benign brain tumor treated in 2017. Last June, she was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, which runs in her family, after experiencing leg cramps, People reported.
A focus on her diet and monitoring glucose levels while taking insulin had her feeling good.
Then in the fall she had "excruciating abdominal pain coupled with diarrhea."
A CT scan found nothing.
"They said, 'Everything's fine.' But I kept having pains," she recalled. On a flight several weeks later, the pain was so bad it felt "like someone was tearing my insides out."
It took a whole-body MRI with a company called Prenuvo to spot her tumor, People reported. A biopsy confirmed the stage 2 pancreatic neuroendocrine tumor.
"I'm like, 'How in the freaking world can I have a brain tumor and pancreatic cancer?'" the host of the podcast Heal Squad said. "All I could think was that I have a baby coming."
Pancreatic cancer is a particularly tough cancer to beat, with a five-year survival rate of 44% for localized cancer. The prognosis is 15% or less for cancer that has spread, according to the American Cancer Society. It estimates about 64,050 Americans will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer this year. About 50,550 people will die of it.
Menounos will not need chemotherapy or additional treatment, according to Dr. Ryan Aronin and her surgeon, Dr. Timothy Donahue, both at UCLA Health. She will need annual scans for five years.
"I'm so grateful and so lucky," Menounos said, noting plans for her baby girl. "God granted me a miracle. I'm going to appreciate having her in my life so much more than I would have before this journey."
She credited her husband and dad for caring for her while she healed after surgery.
"Keven slept in the hospital every night," she said. "And my dad was the best caretaker."
The American Cancer Society has more on pancreatic cancer.