Angelina Jolie’s Double Mastectomy

There’s a lot of controversy over the film star, 37-year-old Angelina Jolie’s decision to get a double mastectomy as a preventive measure. My Fox NY shared an article on the topic, including Jolie's interview with The New York Times. A double mastectomy is the removal of as much “at risk” breast tissue as possible when the patient has an elevated chance of getting breast cancer.

While many women praise Jolie for her courageous decision to take her life into her own hands and give her children peace of mind that she will most likely be alright, others feel that she’s just looking for attention – she has plenty of money and self-confidence to reconstruct her breasts the way she wants them. Other women do not have this luxury. Plus, she didn't even have breast cancer, unlike fellow celebrity, Giuliana Rancic who also underwent a mastectomy but in response to an actual diagnosis.

Say what you will about her surgery; medically, it was a good decision.

Jolie lost her mother to breast cancer after a 10-year-long battle. She explained how she felt, saying, “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.”

The actress carries the faulty BRCA1 gene which greatly increases the chance of developing fatal breast and/or ovarian cancer.

BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes are usually “tumor suppressors.” The U.S. National Cancer Institute says that, when functioning properly, these genes keep cell growth stable. Mutations, such as Angelina Jolie’s, is how these cancers become hereditary concerns.

While in general, 12% of women develop breast cancer during their lives, a much higher 60% of women have these genetic mutations and are diagnosed with breast cancer. This means women with the mutation are more likely to develop breast cancer by five times.

Women who are particularly at risk, genetically, are Jewish women of eastern European heritage, as well as Norwegian, Dutch, and Icelandic women. Women can find out for certain if they carry the mutation with genetic testing.

Jolie says, “My chances of developing breast cancer have dropped from 87% to under 5%,” so women are encouraged to get tested early and make these decisions that could save lives.

Rosetta Radiology offers women’s imaging to keep you as healthy as possible, as well as radiation oncology if you feel surgery is not for you.