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Shannen Doherty's breast cancer has spread: 'The unknown is the scariest part'

One year after being diagnosed with breast cancer, Shannen Doherty has offered a sobering update on her battle against the disease.
/ Source: TODAY

More than a year after being diagnosed with cancer, Shannen Doherty has offered an update on her battle against the disease — including the fact that the cancer has spread.

"I had breast cancer that spread to the lymph nodes, and from one of my surgeries we discovered that some of the cancer cells might have actually gone out of the lymph nodes," the actress recently revealed to Entertainment Tonight. "So for that reason, we are doing chemo, and then after chemo, I'll do radiation."

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It's a journey that Doherty has begun sharing with her fans on social media. Just last month, she posted a series of photos to Instagram documenting the process of shaving off her hair while her mother and friends gathered around her for support.

"The unknown is always the scariest part," she told ET. "Is the chemo going to work? Is the radiation going to work? You know, am I going to have to go through this again, or am I going to get secondary cancer? Everything else is manageable. Pain is manageable, you know living without a breast is manageable, it's the worry of your future and how your future is going to affect the people that you love."

The former "Beverly Hills 90210" and "Charmed" star has already undergone a single mastectomy, and while the procedure wasn't easy, she credits her surgeon with making it a little more bearable.

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"He didn't want me to wake up with absolutely nothing," she explained. "It was very important to him that I didn't have that experience, and so, he put an expander in, so I have a tiny something there. It's cute and sometimes we fill it up and make it bigger, and sometimes we reduce it."

Being so open about such a deeply private process is unusual for Doherty, but she also believes it's important.

"I'm being so personal right now," she said. "But I think a lot of women can probably go, 'Yeah, I've been through that.'"

It's those other women out there who were part of what inspired her to share her recent photos online, revealing what she looks without her long, dark locks, after having lost weight while fighting a foe that she says "ages you."

"I wanted to put it out there the way it felt the best for me to put it out there," she said. "And also, if I could help one person, then it makes me go, 'Oh, OK.' It's easier to live with having cancer if I know I'm helping at least one person."

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