VIDEO: Inside Angelina Jolie's Double Mastectomy Decision * 2024
VIDEO: Inside Angelina Jolie's Double Mastectomy Decision * 2024

Angelina Jolie, reduce her chances of getting breast cancer

The 37-year-old mother of six has explained her reasons for having the surgery in the New York Times. She said her doctors estimated she had an 87% risk of breast cancer and a 50% risk of ovarian cancer. “I decided to be proactive and to minimise the risk as much I could,” she wrote.

Angelina Jolie said the process began in February and was completed by the end of April. In an article entitled My Medical Choice, she explained that her mother fought cancer for nearly a decade and died at the age of 56.

She said she had sought to reassure her children that the same illness would not take her away from them, “but the truth is I carry a ‘faulty’ gene, BRCA1, which sharply increases my risk of developing breast cancer and ovarian cancer”.

She said that once she “knew that this was my reality”, she had taken the decision to undergo the nine weeks of complex surgery required to have a double mastectomy, followed by reconstruction of the breasts with implants. “There have been many advances in this procedure in the last few years, and the results can be beautiful,” she wrote.

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 “Angelina Jolie effect”

When Angelina Jolie spoke publicly of her decision, the “Angelina Jolie Effect” was noted worldwide. This has meant that more women have been tested for the BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations, and more women have opted for prophylactic mastectomies to greatly reduce their risk of developing breast cancer.

Risk-reducing mastectomy rates in the US: a closer examination of the Angelina Jolie effect

The Angelina Effect-a term coined by the rise in internet searches related to breast cancer genetics and counseling-represents a long-lasting impact of celebrity on public health awareness, as significant increases in genetic testing and mastectomy rates were observed and sustained in subsequent years.

It has also meant that more women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer have chosen to have bilateral mastectomies when their doctors have told them that these surgeries will not increase their odds of survival more than having a wide excision/lumpectomy and radiation.

In fact, the percentage of women who have been diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer in one breast who opted for bilateral mastectomies rose from 5.4% in 1998 to almost 30% in 2011. By 2017, approximately 1 in 6 women diagnosed with early breast cancer decided this surgery. It is interesting to note that the numbers vary enormously from state to state.

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