The news that Angelina Jolie had her fallopian tubes removed to future-proof her body against cancer was shocking to some and common sense to others.
Angelina had already addressed some of the questions that this subject raises and expressed her personal opinion in the New York Times after an initial surgery.
“Once I knew that this was my reality, I decided to be proactive and to minimize the risk as much I could. I made a decision to have a preventive double mastectomy.”
Close female relatives of Angelina Jolie, including her grandmother, aunt and mother fell victim to cancer at an early age. It made sense for Angelina to take the test that identifies mutations in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene that increase the risks of contracting cancer as soon as possible.
This inherited, genetic makeup that increases the risk of contracting cancer allows doctors to recommend genetic testing and then support any elective surgery. When interviewed, Steven Elg, M.D., a Gynecologic Oncologist with The Iowa Clinic said;
“If we can identify certain genetic mutations in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene, we can take preventive steps to prevent the cancer from forming.”
Unfortunately for Angelina, the test came back showing that she had a specific mutation in the BRCA1 gene, meaning she was at an over 80 percent risk of contracting breast cancer and a 50 percent chance of contracting ovarian cancer.
Angelina became determined to do all she could to prevent her own early death from breast cancer. She expressed her sadness in not being able to share her own mother with her children, looking ahead to the birth of her own grandchildren.
“We often speak of ‘Mommy’s mommy,’ and I find myself trying to explain the illness that took her away from us.”
The second stage for Angelina Jolie was to have her ovaries removed. This would reduce the overall chances of her contracting cancer to a much lower 10 percent. Two weeks ago she went ahead with this second stage of the surgeries.
This is a less complex operation and all must have gone well as Angelina was seen shopping with her two daughters Shiloh and Zahara over the Easter/Spring break for sunglasses.
Angelina Jolie has expressed her hope that women will be empowered to determine the risks associated with this particular gene mutation, encouraging them to seek out all the information they can, before making life changing and potentially life saving decisions.
“I want to encourage every woman, especially if you have a family history of breast or ovarian cancer, to seek out the information and medical experts who can help you through this aspect of your life, and to make your own informed choices.”
In truth, the only person who can determine if elective surgery is the best solution, is the person whose life is being threatened by cancer. Not least those like Angelina Jolie, who have a predetermined genetic makeup that stack the odds against them living free from this killer disease.
[Image Credit Adam Berry/Getty]