By Dr. Brian McDonough
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – It’s a major, difficult decision for any woman. Angelina Jolie says she’s had a preventive double mastectomy.
Jolie reveals in a New York Times Op-Ed this morning that she came to the decision after her doctors discovered she has the BRCA1 gene mutation, which she said, “sharply increases my risk of developing breast cancer and ovarian cancer.” Her doctors, she said, placed her risk of breast cancer at 87 percent.
She writes, “I choose not to keep my story private because there are many women who do not know that they might be living under the shadow of cancer. It is my hope that they, too, will be able to get gene tested, and that if they have a high risk they, too, will know that they have strong options.”
I think Angelina Jolie made a very important statement when she said she was doing this because she did not want her children to have the fear of her dying of breast cancer. And that it empowered her to have the breasts removed, rather than having the breasts as a sexual object, which would remain for that reason.
I thought that was a great message, not only for other women, but for men as well. Because, what she did is very courageous and it could save a life.
The decision — whether to have a mastectomy or to have your ovaries removed — obviously is a very personal one. But, the actual testing, if you have a history of breast or ovarian cancer in your family and you’re at high risk, that testing should be done, because at the very least you need to know the situation that you might potentially be facing.
For more information, visit: www.cancer.gov
To read about Angelina Jolie’s treatment, visit: www.pinklotusbreastcenter.com