Angelina Jolie is a Hollywood film star popularly known to have undergone double massectomy, the surgical removal of her two breasts. Not only that, she also had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed. However, she didn't just come up with such decision with no genuine reason.
Angelina carried a mutation in the BCRA1 gene of her chromosome which increased her chance of developing breast cancer by 87% and of ovarian cancer by 50%. She lost her mother to breast and ovarian cancers when she was just 56. Her grandmother and aunt also died of cancer. Because her risk of developing breast cancer was higher, she opted in first for breast removal as a means of prevention.
In her words, "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. Once I knew that this was my reality, I decided to be proactive and to minimize the risk as much as I could. I made a decision to have a preventive double mastectomy."
She however didn't fail to include that it was a hard decision to make but has also never regretted it.
"The decision to have a double mastectomy was not easy. 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," she said
Though the surgery always comes with side effects, this is nothing to Angelina compared to the joy of having low risk of developing ovarian or breast cancer. She lives on hormone replacement therapy to combat the post-surgery side effects. Angelina Jolie had 6 children before she underwent surgery.
The surgery was completed with reconstruction and implants of both breasts. One Dr. Stephanie Bernik, chief of surgical oncology at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, double mastectomy was "the best option for someone who has a BRCA mutation." Talking about the cosmetic and implants post-operation, he said, "The reconstructive options have improved dramatically over the past years. So women can at least feel confident knowing that if they remove their breasts they will be left with a very good to excellent cosmetic result."
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