CANSA Responds: Angelina Jolie – Double Mastectomy
Angelina Jolie (actress and director) – excerpt New York Times, 14th May 2013: “My mother fought cancer for almost a decade and died at 56. She held out long enough to meet the first of her grandchildren and to hold them in her arms.
But my other children will never have the chance to know her and experience how loving and gracious she was. I have always told them not to worry, but the truth is I carry a ‘faulty’ gene, BRCA1, which sharply increases my risk of developing breast cancer and ovarian cancer.
Only a fraction of breast cancers result from an inherited gene mutation. Those with a defect in BRCA1 have a 65 percent risk of getting it, on average.
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”.
This is a controversial issue – it’s accepted that it will reduce your risk for breast and even ovarian cancer. However, it must be understood that although it may reduce your risk up to 90%, you still have a 10% chance of developing breast cancer after a prophylactic mastectomy, as you can’t remove all breast tissue during surgery.
As a rule, CANSA doesn’t promote this life changing procedure without ensuring that the patient has access to a comprehensive health team in respect of counselling and support after surgery – this includes consulting her loved ones before taking this decision.
Should a woman decide to have a preventative mastectomy due to a strong family history or being a carrier of the BRCA gene, we highly recommend genetic counselling and in depth consultation with her oncologist, reconstructive surgeons and medical practitioners first, as there are other factors to be considered as well, such as the physiological and physical complications that follow major surgeries such as this.
As correctly stated, every person is different and should make an informed decision within their own realities.
Preventative Screening Important:
CANSA still promotes regular screening and getting to know your body so that you’re aware of any changes and are alert to unusual changes. If there is a family history of breast cancer, please consult with your physician regularly to ensure that the necessary support and guidance is provided. Read more…