Learning From the Past: Angelina’s Preemptive Breast Cancer Surgery

While the world is still reeling following her divorce from Brad Pitt, actress Angelina Jolie's advocacy for preventative breast cancer surgery must not be forgotten.

There are many risk factors for breast cancer, but one of the main risks is genetic and involves faulty genes. Women who carry faulty genes such as BRCA1, BRCA2, TP53 and TPEN are statistically more likely to get breast or ovarian cancer. In fact, according to the National Cancer Institute, women with the faulty genes have a 65 percent risk for the cancers.

Angelina Jolie was one of those women.

Having preventative surgery such as a double mastectomy or the removal of the fallopian tubes and ovaries is seen as an effective way to reduce the risk of cancer — usually by around 90 percent —  but it is considered drastic and should not be a decision that's taken lightly.

MORE: Six types of exercise you could try with breast cancer

Jolie found that she had an 87 percent risk of developing breast cancer, which her aunt died from, and a 50 percent risk of contracting ovarian cancer — the disease that killed her mother at age 56. Jolie has the faulty BRCA1 gene, a rare mutation that just 0.25 percent of the general population carries, but is responsible for 2 percent of breast cancer cases and between 10 percent and 15 percent of ovarian cancer cases.

In February 2013, the actress underwent a double subcutaneous mastectomy and breast reconstruction surgery in secret but a few months later revealed the surgery to the world

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One comment

  1. Brigid says:

    I was tested for the BRAC gene it came back negative but the genetics Dr says I need further tests as the history is more than seven in my family? What are the other tests ?

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