The 45-year-old actress reveals her cancer has spread in an exclusive sit-down with ET.
"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," Doherty tells ET's Jennifer Peros. "So for that reason, we are doing chemo, and then after chemo, I'll do radiation."
Doherty also reveals she had a single mastectomy in May and is open about the most difficult part of fighting cancer.
"The unknown is always the scariest part," she shares. "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."
Doherty through the years:
Shannen Doherty through the years
Shannen Doherty through the years
LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 18: Actress Shannen Doherty attends Paramount Network Launch Party at Sunset Tower on January 18, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Earl Gibson III/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 27: Kurt Iswarienko and Shannen Doherty attend Casamigos Halloween Party on October 27, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Casamigos Tequila)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - SEPTEMBER 09: Actress Shannen Doherty attends Farrah Fawcett Foundation's 'Tex-Mex Fiesta' honoring Stand Up To Cancer at Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on September 9, 2017 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Keipher McKennie/FilmMagic)
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 21: Shannen Doherty participates in a congressional briefing, speaking about the newly-introduced bill H.R. 1406, the Dog and Cat Meat Trade Prohibition Act, on protecting dogs and cats from human consumption at Rayburn House Office Building on March 21, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Leigh Vogel/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 05: (EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE) Actress Shannen Doherty arrives at American Cancer Society's Giants of Science Los Angeles Gala on November 5, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Vivien Killilea/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 10: Actress Shannen Doherty attends Hollywood Unites For The 5th Biennial Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C), A Program Of The Entertainment Industry Foundation (EIF) at Walt Disney Concert Hall on September 9, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 09: Actress Shannen Doherty attends Hollywood Unites for the 5th Biennial Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C), A Program of The Entertainment Industry Foundation (EIF) at Walt Disney Concert Hall on September 9, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Gregg DeGuire/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 27: Shannen Doherty (L) and Holly Marie Combs arrive at the LA Art Show and Los Angeles Fine Art Show's 2016 opening night premiere party benefiting St. Jude Children's Research Hospital held at Los Angeles Convention Center on January 27, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Michael Tran/FilmMagic)
CULVER CITY, CA - NOVEMBER 14: Actress Shannen Doherty attends the 2015 Baby2Baby Gala presented by MarulaOil & Kayne Capital Advisors Foundation honoring Kerry Washington at 3LABS on November 14, 2015 in Culver City, California. (Photo by David Livingston/Getty Images)
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - APRIL 19: Actress Shannen Doherty attends Jennie Garth's 40th birthday celebration and premiere party for 'Jennie Garth: A Little Bit Country' at The London Hotel on April 19, 2012 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Angela Weiss/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 13: Actress Shannen Doherty attends Shepherd Conservation Society's 2nd Annual 'World Love For Dolphins Day' at Japanese Consulate on February 13, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Joe Kohen/Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - MARCH 13: (EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE) Actress Shannen Doherty arrives at Charles-de-Gaulle airport on March 13, 2014 in Paris, France. (Photo by Marc Piasecki/GC Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 09: Shannen Doherty is sighted at The Grove on April 9, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Noel Vasquez/FilmMagic)
WATCH WHAT HAPPENS LIVE -- Pictured: Shannen Doherty -- (Photo by: Peter Kramer/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 10: Shannen Doherty attends STK Los Angeles' 3 Year Anniversary Party at STK on May 10, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Todd Williamson/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 14: Shannen Doherty signs copies of her new book 'Badass' at Barnes & Noble bookstore at The Grove on December 14, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)
Shannen Doherty arrives at the Los Angeles premiere of 'Burning Palms' held at ArcLight Cinemas on January 12, 2011 in Hollywood, California.
NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 02: Actress Shannen Doherty promotes 'Badass' at Borders Books & Music, Columbus Circle on November 2, 2010 in New York City. (Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images)
Shannen Doherty celebrates the grand opening of Bravada Women's Athletica at Bravada - Women's Athletica on June 17, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jean Baptiste Lacroix/WireImage)
NEW YORK - APRIL 01: Dancer Mark Ballas (L) and television personality Shannen Doherty pose for photos in Midtown Manhattan on April 01, 2010 in New York City. (Photo by Ray Tamarra/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 27: Shannen Doherty attends Perez Hilton's 'Carn-Evil' Theatrical Freak and Funk 32nd birthday party at Paramount Studios on March 27, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jean Baptiste Lacroix/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 26: Shannen Doherty is seen on March 26, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jean Baptiste Lacroix/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 16: Actress Shannen Doherty arrives at The Art of Elysium's 3rd Annual Black Tie Charity Gala 'Heaven' on January 16, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 18: Actress Shannen Doherty arrives at Flaunt Magazine's 10th Anniversary Party and Annual Holiday Toy Drive at the Wayne Kao Mansion on December 18th, 2008 in Holmby Hills, CA. (Photo by Michael Bezjian/WireImage)
PASADENA, CA - JULY 11: Actress Shannen Doherty speaks during the 2006 Summer Television Critics Press Tour for the Oxygen Network at the Ritz Carlton Hotel July 11, 2006 in Pasadena, California. (Photo Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 3: (ITALY OUT, NY DAILY NEWS OUT, NY NEWSDAY OUT) Actress Shannen Doherty attends the Fendi Flagship store opening November 3, 2005 in New York City. (Photo by Arnaldo Magnani/Getty Images)
Shannen Doherty during DKNY Jeans Presents Vanity Fair in Concert With a Live Performance by Alanis Morissette Benefiting Step Up Women's Network at Hiro Ballroom at The Maritime Hotel in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/WireImage)
Shannen Doherty during Olympus Fashion Week Fall 2005 - Sweetface by Jennifer Lopez and Andy Hilfiger - Backstage Arrivals at The Tent, Bryant Park in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by KMazur/WireImage)
Shannen Doherty at the HP Portrait Studio in Park City, Utah (Photo by Jeff Vespa/WireImage)
Shannen Doherty (Photo by Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage)
Shannen Doherty during The 56th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards - Fox After Party - Arrivals at Spago in Beverly Hills, California, United States. (Photo by J.Sciulli/WireImage for The jLINE Group, Inc.)
Shannen Doherty during World Premiere of 'S.W.A.T.' at Mann Village Theater in Westwood, California, United States. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic)
Shannen Doherty (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)
Jason Priestley, Shannen Doherty and Luke Perry (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)
394962 09: ***EXCLUSIVE*** (Publicist Approval Required for ALL Usage) Actress Shannen Doherty poses for a portrait January 2001 in Los Angeles, CA. (Photo by Jeff Katz/Getty Images) (Clients must call or email Getty Images with EXACT frame number, client name, name/type of publication, date of intended publication and type of usage (cover, inside full page, etc) and WAIT for Getty Images to confirm publicist approval before allowing client to commit these images to use.)
Shannen Doherty, circa 1988. (Photo by Getty Images)
Actresses Shannen Doherty and Shalane McCall attend Starlight Foundation Benefit on September 22, 1988 at Ed Debevic's Restaurant in Beverly Hills, California.
LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE -- Season 9 -- Pictured: Shannen Doherty as Jenny Wilder (Photo by Frank Carroll/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
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But Doherty has found amazing support from her team of doctors, including the surgeon who performed her mastectomy.
"He didn't want me to wake up with absolutely nothing," she recalls. "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."
"I'm being so personal right now," she acknowledges. "But I think a lot of women can probably go, 'Yeah, I've been through that.' It's great though, you get to pick out what size you want."
Still, Doherty did have an emotional reaction to getting fitted for a new bra.
"It was traumatic and horrible, and I didn't think anything of it at the time, then my mom went with me and I broke down crying in the dressing room and ran out," she recalls, now able to laugh about it. "And then sat in the car crying."
Doherty was diagnosed with breast cancer in February 2015, and has undergone three out of eight rounds of chemotherapy so far. One of the more difficult experiences has been losing her iconic hair -- the long dark locks and blunt bangs she has sported since her Brenda Walsh days.
Thankfully the Beverly Hills, 90210 actress has the support of her mom, best friends, and her husband of five years, Kurt Iswarienko. With their help she was able to turn a heartbreaking moment into an inspiring one when she shared photos of herself shaving her head earlier this month.
"After my second treatment, my hair was really matted, like in dreadlocks. And I went to try and brush it out, and it just fell out," Doherty recalls. "I just remember holding onto huge clumps of my hair in my hands, and just running to my mom crying, like, 'My hair, my hair, my hair, my hair.'"
"It was just shedding and it was driving me crazy," she continues. "It was just clumps, and I was like, 'Just grab the kitchen scissors.' And my mom's like, 'Wait, wait, wait.' I'm just, like, 'Grab it.' She went and grabbed the kitchen scissors, and put it in a ponytail and she just chopped it off. And it was this cute little bob, but it wasn't enough, you know, it was falling out."
Unfortunately, her husband wasn't able to be there with her during the process, but he was still cheering her on.
"He was in Mexico working and he was texting nonstop in the middle of his photoshoot like, 'Give me pictures, and are you ok? I wish I could be there,'" she shares. "He was so stricken that he wasn't there with me but I sent him pictures and videos and he was like, 'Oh my god. You're hot with no hair.' So you know, everybody kind of made me feel better about it."
Doherty, who wears scarves over her head -- some personally sent to her by designer Diane von Furstenberg -- also candidly describes her intense battle with the disease.
"I am in bed and it is a rush to the bathroom," she says about her after-chemo experience. "It's, you know, you're throwing up every single second. After my first treatment I lost 10 pounds, instantly. You're throwing up and the last thing you want to do is be in a car. You don't want to be moved, you can't eat. But my husband has to, you know, pick me up. He puts me in the car, he buckles me in, and he drives me to my oncologist and they hook me up to an IV and I get hydrated. ... There's nothing going in my body, it's all going out."
Doherty admits to being self-conscious about her appearance. Though, above all, she hopes to inspire others fighting cancer.
"People don't realize that cancer -- yes, it ages you -- but also, you can balloon up from the various meds," she explains. "There are so many different reactions you have and so I just -- I didn't want someone to take a picture of me coming out of the grocery store and be like, 'Oh God, look at her.'"
"I wanted to put it out there the way it felt the best for me to put it out there," she adds. "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."