Angelina Jolie Has Double Mastectomy

Avatar for cmkristy
iVillage Member
Registered: 07-05-2005
Angelina Jolie Has Double Mastectomy
Tue, 05-14-2013 - 7:46am

Angelina Jolie says she has undergone a preventive double mastectomy after being told that she had an 87 percent risk of breast cancer, along with a 50 percent risk of ovarian cancer.

In an article published in the opinion section of Tuesday's New York Times, Jolie said her decision was informed by her mother's long fight against cancer. Marcheline Bertrand died in 2007 at age 56.

Jolie said she hoped that other women would find encouragement from her story. 

"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," Jolie said in the Times article. "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."

Wow! If you had the testing done, and your results were similar, would you have made the same choice?

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iVillage Member
Registered: 08-22-2009
Tue, 05-14-2013 - 8:41am

 Because of my DD1 having breast cancer and testing positive for the gene my entire family has or will be tested.

  I am negative, my DH is positive,  DD2 is positive.  She will be having her breasts removed in the not so distant future.

  DD3 is waiting to be tested next month when her paid time off resets. If it comes back positive she will have them removed.

   Before my testing I had made the decision if it came back positive I would have them removed.


Avatar for jamblessedthree
iVillage Member
Registered: 10-23-2001
Tue, 05-14-2013 - 2:57pm

I don't know where I stand here, I wonder if this extreme prevention is comparable to screening cancers early instead of putting that off too.  (There's a family history of breast cancer in mine).  Jolie is a beautiful woman but I don't draw inspiration from celebrities like her. 



iVillage Member
Registered: 10-17-2012
Tue, 05-14-2013 - 5:21pm

A brave and practical decision.

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-01-2002
Tue, 05-14-2013 - 6:13pm

If I had Angelina Jolie's "numbers," yes.  I would have the testing done.  Angelina's mother died young of cancer and Angelina has the genetic makeup of the Jewish sect which is often tied to high rates of breast cancer and ovarian cancer.  She's a smart woman.  And rich!  So all costs are easily covered.  Good for her and good luck to others watching for the pending Supreme Court decision over the Myriad Genetics monopoly. 

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-27-1998
Wed, 05-15-2013 - 7:08pm

In her case, screening would not be as effective, because not only are women with the BRCA1 mutation (which she has) more likely to get cancer, they are also more likely to have an aggressive form that is harder to treat. Women with the BRCA2 mutation can reduce their risk by taking tamoxifen, but this isn't effective for women with the BRCA1 mutation. She chose an aggressive method of prevention, but it makes a lot of sense in her case.

Both of the BRCA mutations are rare, so most of us don't need to take such drastic measures, thank God!

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-11-2006
Wed, 05-15-2013 - 7:26pm

I thought I had remembered that having a double mastectomy does not guarantee that one will not get breast cancer.

Sadly, it seems I remembered correctly. Fortunately, 9 out of 10 times prophylatic surgery is effective.

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-27-1998
Wed, 05-15-2013 - 8:18pm

No, because there is always some breast tissue they can't get. However, it lowers a person's risk to as low as 5%. which is lower than that of the average woman without one of the BRCA mutations, so in her case, it was probably worth it. For those who don't have such a high risk to start with, a drastic measure like this isn't necessary.

Community Leader
Registered: 10-01-2010
Sat, 05-18-2013 - 10:54am

My mother died of breast cancer in March of this year. She also had liver, brain, bone and skin cancer.

My aunt (her sister) died of breast cancer two years ago. My other aunt (her sister) died of pancreatic cancer several years ago. My remaining aunt (her sister) is currently dying of breast cancer, not sure how much longer she has. She had ovarian/uterine cancer when she in her 40's.

Several of my cousins (my aunts' children) have found lumps in their breasts, including a male cousin who died of breast cancer at 21 years old. My niece had ovarian cancer at 21. My sister had thyroid cancer. My cousin has leukemia. My grandfather (mom's dad) died of lung cancer. I've had a couple of pre-cancerous scares myself...

So do I have the gene? Probably... but I am not eligible to get tested. (!?!)

But no, I would not get a preventive mastectomy. Cancer is not a disease you just "get" like being randomly struck by lightning. It's something you must manage/prevent day by day, meal by meal, through lifestyle choices...

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-22-2009
Sat, 05-18-2013 - 12:34pm

>So do I have the gene? Probably... but I am not eligible to get tested. (!?

In the U.S. (I do not know if you are in another country). there is no eligibilty to get tested but payment for the test can be an issue.  What we have been told at the oncology clinic and has been backed by our experice is that insurance will pay for the testing of anyone who has breast cancer and any 1st line relalative of them (parent, child, sibling). 

It does not matter how many in your family has cancer your changes of having the gene is still only 50%. It can only come from a parent, it does not skip generations.  Since DH has the gene all of our DDs had a 50% chance of having it.  Since DD1 and DD2  have it any children they may have have that same 50% chance.   If DD3 turns up posivite for the gene then her children have the same 50% chance but if she turns up negative then it stops with her in her line. 

Community Leader
Registered: 10-01-2010
Sat, 05-18-2013 - 12:59pm

Good info to know - thanks!

I am in Canada, and I already asked for the test and my doctor recommended me. It seems I had to be approved - it would be completely covered here, I would not have to pay.

But I was turned down as not eligible for the program. My doctor said he would hate to see the person who is eligible, if I am not.

I would love it if it would stop with me - I have made my peace with it, but for my children, it would break my heart!