Two years ago, Angelina Jolie wrote about her decision to have a double mastectomy (surgical removal of both breasts). The purpose was to reduce her high risk of developing fatal breast cancer.
She had taken a simple blood test that showed she carried a mutation in the BRCA1 gene. She was told that the mutation indicated an estimated 87 percent risk of breast cancer and a 50 percent risk of ovarian cancer.
Breast surgery is usually recommended for women who have the BRCA1 gene.
Angelina has a family history of cancer-related illness. Angelina is 39 years old. Her mother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer at age 49. Her grandmother and an aunt also died from cancer.
Recently, with advice from her doctors and after careful research into options, Angelina decided to have preventive surgery to remove her ovaries and fallopian tubes.
Removal of ovaries and fallopian tubes is less complex surgery than mastectomies. However, its effects are more severe. It puts a woman into forced menopause.
There are options for women to remove their fallopian tubes but keep their ovaries, and so retain the ability to bear children.
One expert said, “Angelina has brought attention to cancers that are hard to detect until it is too late. She raises the issue of genetic testing for women who might be at greater risk of developing cancer. She has put a very positive spin on the importance of genetic testing.”
Angelina says, “There is more than one way to deal with any health issue. The most important thing is to learn about the options and choose what is right for you. Knowledge is power.”
Source: The New York Times March 24, 2015