Angelina Jolie writes in a stunning op-ed that she recently underwent the surgery after learning she carries a mutant form of a gene that predisposes her for breast and ovarian cancer.
She writes in the New York Times:
I have always told them not to worry, but the truth is I carry a “faulty” gene, BRCA1, which sharply increases my risk of developing breast cancer and ovarian cancer.
My doctors estimated that I had an 87 percent risk of breast cancer and a 50 percent risk of ovarian cancer, although the risk is different in the case of each woman.
Only a fraction of breast cancers result from an inherited gene mutation. Those with a defect in BRCA1 have a 65 percent risk of getting it, on average.
Once I knew that this was my reality, I decided to be proactive and to minimize the risk as much I could. I made a decision to have a preventive double mastectomy. I started with the breasts, as my risk of breast cancer is higher than my risk of ovarian cancer, and the surgery is more complex.
She wrote the op-ed in hopes of inspiring and informing other women:
But I am writing about it now because I hope that other women can benefit from my experience. Cancer is still a word that strikes fear into people’s hearts, producing a deep sense of powerlessness. But today it is possible to find out through a blood test whether you are highly susceptible to breast and ovarian cancer, and then take action.
She says her chances of developing breast cancer have dropped from 87 percent to under 5 percent, and that although the decision to have a double mastectomy was not an easy one, she did it for her children. Having lost her own beloved mother to the disease, she says "I can tell my children that they don’t need to fear they will lose me to breast cancer."
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