Maria Menounos Says a Salad Actually Helped Her Detect Her Cancer
The TV personality experienced debilitating pain after eating a meal on a plane.
TV host Maria Menounos knew something was wrong well before she was diagnosed with a rare form of pancreatic cancer. She says part of the reason she grew concerned was her body's reaction to a salad that she ate on a plane. In a new interview with Today.com, Menounos opened up about her symptoms, her diagnosis, and her treatment, including why she realized that she needed to seek medical care in the first place.
Menounos explained that, around a year ago, she was eating a farro salad on an airplane when she began feeling intense pain.
"It was like that kind of pain where you felt like you were going to explode inside," she told Today.com. "I thought it was the farro. I thought that I must be getting really gluten intolerant and my stomach just was not handling this well."
Previously, the 45-year-old star told People that she had experienced "excruciating abdominal pain coupled with diarrhea." Mentioning pain she felt on a flight specifically, she said it was "like someone was tearing my insides out."
Menounos' pain and digestive symptoms continued, and she underwent a colonoscopy, endoscopy, and CT scan, none of which found an issue. Then, in January 2023, she sought out a full body MRI scan from a private company on her own, which found a 3.9 centimeter mass on her pancreas. The mass was determined to be a pancreatic neuroendocrine tumor, which is a less common form of pancreatic cancer.
Speaking of her experience searching for answers, Menounos said, "That's why I keep saying to people: If the symptoms persist, so should you. You have to be your own advocate and you have to keep pushing. It's exhausting, but your life really depends on it." She added, "I really encourage anybody who's having any consistent pain or symptoms like diarrhea, bloating, gas or constipation—you have to look deeper. Something's going on. A lot of people just want to shush their bodies and go back to work and go back to life and pretend it's not happening. I've been there."
According to the American Cancer Society, "pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors are a less common type of pancreatic cancer. They make up less than 2 percent of pancreatic cancers, but tend to have a better outlook (prognosis) than the more common type." The more common type is pancreatic adenocarcinoma. The American Cancer Society explains that for pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors, symptoms vary based on the type of excess hormone the tumor is releasing. These can include pain, nausea, loss of appetite, diarrhea, and jaundice.
To treat her cancer, Menounos underwent surgery on February to remove the tumor, her spleen, part of her pancreas, 17 lymph nodes, and a fibroid. She now monitors her symptoms and will have a PET scan each year. This was not the first time Menounos was diagnosed with a tumor. In 2017, she found out she had a benign golf ball-sized brain tumor, which was surgically removed.
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