Angelina Jolie: Preventive Mastectomy Growing In Popularity

Angelina Jolie has announced that she underwent a preventive double mastectomy. While the procedure is a major surgery, it is gaining in popularity as testing to detect breast cancer risk is available.

A mutation of the BRCA-1 gene has been linked to increased risk of developing certain types of cancer. Specifically, the mutation has been linked to breast and ovarian cancers.

As reported by CNN, Jolie submitted to testing that resulted in indications that she was 87 percent likely to develop breast cancer and 50 percent likely to develop ovarian cancer.

Jolie has announced that she made the difficult decision to have both of her breasts removed as a preventive measure. She states that she went public with her surgery as she wanted to “tell other women that the decision to have a mastectomy was not easy. But it is one I am very happy that I made.”

Angelina Jolie’s decision to have the preventive mastectomy is not unusual. A growing number of women are submitting to the elective procedure due to the availability of testing for breast cancer susceptibility genes.

The BRCA genes inhibit the growth of tumors. Mutations of the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes have been shown to indicate increased instances of breast and ovarian cancers.

As reported by, preventive mastectomy includes the “removal of one or both breasts.” Research has shown that the preventive surgery may decrease the possibility of developing breast cancer by up to 90 percent.


Women choosing the preventive option must consider the risk of complications and the fact that the procedure is not a guarantee. At least 10 percent of women undergoing the procedure are still at risk of developing the disease.

The procedure usually includes complete removal of the breast or breasts. However, reconstructive surgery can be done to enhance cosmetic appearance. Reconstruction procedures can enhance the shape and appearance of the breast area.

Angelina Jolie admits that preventive mastectomy is not for everyone. She states that she simply wants women to know that the option is available. Like any other elective surgery, the decision is a personal choice.

[Image via Wikimedia]