'90210' Star Diagnosed with Breast Cancer

Shannen Doherty's later breast cancer diagnosis might lead to more drastic treatments

A former "Beverly Hills, 90210" star recently learned that she has breast cancer.

Shannen Doherty's doctors have since told her that they might have been better able to slow her breast cancer if they had known about it earlier, reports CBS News.

According to the American Cancer Society, breast cancers that are found after they have become advanced enough to cause symptoms are harder to treat. Also, finding cancer early means it is less likely to have spread to other parts of the body.

Doherty didn't receive a timely diagnosis, however, because her health insurance had lapsed — allegedly because of her advisers' financial management, according to a lawsuit Doherty has filed.

"The spread of the cancer has caused (Doherty) severe emotional stress," the lawsuit argues, per CBS News.

Doherty herself hasn't said much about the matter, but she did confirm her diagnosis to People Magazine.

"Yes, I have breast cancer, and I am currently undergoing treatment," she said in a statement to People. "I am continuing to eat right, exercise and stay very positive about my life. I am thankful to my family, friends and doctors for their supports and, of course, my fans who have stood by me."

Legal papers revealing the disease were originally discovered by TMZ. Those documents note, according to People, that Doherty "discovered that she had invasive breast cancer [spreading] to at least one lymph node."

They also contend that her business manager had failed to pay her health insurance premium and thereby allowed her insurance to lapse. The lawsuit alleges that her cancer spread last year while she was uninsured.

Legal matters aside, Doherty said she will now turn her attention to treatments that could halt and potentially reverse the cancer's spread — potentially chemotherapy or a mastectomy (removal of a breast).

The American Cancer Society estimates that 231,840 women will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer this year in the US. Around 1 in 8 women living in the US will be diagnosed with the disease at some point in their lives.