On Tuesday March 24, actress Angelina Jolie announced in the New York Times that she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed in the hope it would reduce the risk of her developing cancer.
She decided on the preventive surgery after recent test results indicated a possible early sign of cancer. This came as a shock to the Oscar-winning actress who had already gone through a double mastectomy.
Two years ago, Jolie publicly announced that she had a high risk of developing ovarian and breast cancer due to a family gene. Her mother died of ovarian cancer and her grandmother also lost her life to this illness. This family history and the genetic risk convinced the actress to go through a double mastectomy, an intervention during which both breasts are removed.
Her decision of having the double mastectomy was accepted by the public and considered to have raised awareness and encouraged women to get breast cancer screenings which help detect such cancerous formations while in an early stage.
The “faulty” gene is known as the BRCA breast cancer susceptibility gene. This is a rather rare gene, found mostly in women with Eastern European Jewish origins but also in Norwegian, Dutch and Icelandic populations.
The average risk of developing breast cancer in women is 12 percent. The risk for those born with the BRCA gene is five times greater.
There are other options when it comes having this mutation but Jolie’s decision was also influenced by her family’s cancer history. She stated:
“A positive BRCA test does not mean a leap to surgery. I have spoken to many doctors, surgeons and naturopaths. There is more than one way to deal with any health issue. The most important thing is to learn about the options and choose what is right for you personally.”
Removing the ovaries and fallopian tubes leads to the early onset of menopause. The actress is now searching for the appropriate alternatives like hormone replacement therapy.
In the New York Times article she wrote about how she wanted to inform women about what options they had. She also described the fear she felt after knowing the results:
“The beautiful thing about such moments in life is that there is so much clarity. You know what you live for and what matters. It is polarizing, and it is peaceful.”
Image Source: Zindgi Magazine