Cancer experts say actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie made the right decision to undergo elective surgery to remove her ovaries and fallopian tubes to prevent developing ovarian cancer.
Jolie revealed she underwent the procedure last week in an Op-Ed piece for The New York Times.
The actress says there were several factors that prompted her to take an aggressive course of action, and that testing positive for the BRCA gene “does not mean a leap to surgery.”
“The most important thing is to learn about the options and choose what is right for you personally,” she says in the op-ed.
Angelina Jolie carries the BRCA1 gene, a genetic mutation that predisposes her for a higher risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer.
“Prophylactic removal of ovaries and fallopian tubes is strongly recommended in women before age 40 in BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutation carriers,” Dr. Susan Domchek, executive director of the University of Pennsylvania’s Basser Research Center tells The New York Times.
Jolie says she had planned to undergo the procedure over the next several months, but a recent blood showing disturbing markers of the early signs of cancer prompted her to schedule surgery sooner.
Doctors say ovarian cancer is one of the deadliest types of cancer because it’s usually only discovered in its late stages, when treatment options are limited.
The news of Jolie’s surgery comes just two years after she made headlines by announcing her decision to undergo a preventive double mastectomy — stirring international debate about the early detection of the BRCA1 gene and choices women are faced with in preventing cancer.
While the ovarian and fallopian tube removal surgery is less complicated than a mastectomy, the effects from her recent surgery are more far-reaching, says Jolie. The 39-year old actress receives aggressive hormone therapy to counteract the effects of surgery-induced menopause.
Before both elective surgeries, doctors told Jolie she had an 87 percent risk of breast cancer and 50 percent risk of developing ovarian cancer. She lost her mother, grandmother, and aunt to cancer.
“She is doing a lot of good for women worldwide by raising awareness of BRCA testing and options women have.”
[Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images]