International movie star Angelina Jolie made a big announcement on Tuesday in The New York Times newspaper. Jolie reveled that she had undergone a preventive double mastectomy because she had a high cancer risk.
The actress wrote an opinon piece titled “My Medical Choice” where she explained that she chose to undergo the double mastectomy because of a mutated BRCA1 gene that’s been linked to a rise in woman’s risk of breast and ovarian cancers. According to the National Cancer Institute, the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes role in the body is to keep DNA stable and make sure cells are growing correctly.
Jolie, 37, explained her risks from BRCA1 in the piece:
“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.”
Jolie began the double mastectomy process with a “nipple delay” procedure that began on Feb.2, where doctors went in to make sure there’s no breast cancer behind the nipple. She finished all the required surgeries on April 27, including having breast reconstruction with an implant.
“I wanted to write this to tell other women that the decision to have a mastectomy was not easy,” Jolie wrote. “But it is one I am very happy that I made. My chances of developing breast cancer have dropped from 87 percent to under 5 percent. I can tell my children that they don’t need to fear they will lose me to breast cancer.”