Katie Couric Gets On-Air Mammogram

10/07/2005 at 08:00 AM EDT

Katie Couric Gets On-Air Mammogram
Katie Couric
Walter Weissman/starmax
Katie Couric is hoping to bring the same awareness to breast cancer as she brought to colon cancer.

With October marking more than 20 years of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month – educating women about the importance of early detection, diagnosis and treatment – the Today Show host, 48, received a mammogram at a New York hospital on Friday's program.

As the soundtrack played the song "Getting to Know You" from the musical The King & I, Couric – with her back to the camera – discreetly dropped the robe for the X-ray machine to examine four angles of her breasts.

Her radiologist, Eva, explained beforehand that there would be no pain involved, "just some possible discomfort," as the breasts would be slightly compressed by the machinery for the examination.

Afterwards, when being taken back to the dressing room, Couric admitted: "Now comes the hard part. Waiting to hear the diagnosis."

But it was A-okay for her. "A lot of simple cysts," her physician pointed out. "Everything is benign. We will see you next year."

Back in the TV studio, Couric – noting that several women are scared of the procedure – said: "It's a little uncomfortable ... but, as we say, it hurts a lot less than being diagnosed with breast cancer."

In 1998, Couric's husband Jay Monahan, a lawyer and TV legal analyst, died from colon cancer at age 42. Couric turned her grief into advocacy for the disease and in March 2000 underwent an historic televised colonoscopy, giving millions of viewers a guided tour of her large intestine.

As a result, the rate of colon cancer testing jumped 20 percent nationwide, in what researchers at University of Michigan, writing in the "Archives of Internal Medicine," called "The Katie Couric Effect."

On Friday's program, Couric said she hopes the same reaction takes place now that she's had an on-air mammogram. "And next month, a Pap smear – just kidding," she said at the end of the segment.

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