Angelina Jolie revealed that she had a preventative double mastectomy after finding out that she carries a gene greatly increasing her risk for breast cancer and ovarian cancer.
Jolie revealed the procedure in an op-ed for the New York Times titled “My Medical Choice.” In the essay, Jolie talks about her mother, who battled cancer for a decade before dying at age 56.
When Angelina Jolie learned she had the same “faulty” gene that could lead to her getting cancer, she opted for a double mastectomy.
“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,” Jolie wrote.
Faced with the harsh reality, Jolie said she decided to be proactive and minimize her risk as much as she could. Because her risk of getting breast cancer was higher and because the surgery for ovarian cancer is more complex, Angelina Jolie opted for the preventative double mastectomy.
“On April 27, I finished the three months of medical procedures that the mastectomies involved,” Jolie wrote. “During that time I have been able to keep this private and to carry on with my work.
“But I am writing about it now because I hope that other women can benefit from my experience. Cancer is still a word that strikes fear into people’s hearts, producing a deep sense of powerlessness. But today it is possible to find out through a blood test whether you are highly susceptible to breast and ovarian cancer, and then take action.”
Jolie said her medical ordeal started with a procedure known as a “nipple delay,” ruling out the disease in the breast ducts behind the nipple. Two weeks later, in mid-February, she had a major surgery to remove breast tissue and have temporary fillers put in place.
Angelina Jolie had a final surgery nine weeks after the preventative double mastectomy to reconstruct her breasts with an implant.
The actress is sharing her story because she wants others to know they have options for preventing breast cancer and that they need not live “in the shadow of cancer.” She said she is happy with her decision, even if the procedure was not easy.
And for Angelina Jolie, the double mastectomy was well worth it. Her risk of developing breast cancer dropped from 87 percent to less than 5 percent.