Health | WCTV Eyewitness News: Tallahassee, Thomasville, Valdosta

Angelina Jolie's Double Mastectomy Brings Awareness to Hereditary Cancer


By: Lanetra Bennett
May 14, 2013

Movie star and producer Angelina Jolie has announced publicly that she's had a double mastectomy. She says she did it because doctors told her she had an 87 percent risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer and 50 percent risk of ovarian cancer.

Tallahassee Resident Rachel Collins says, "Personally, I would probably do the same thing. If you have that high of a chance of getting breast cancer, you have to look at your family and you have to weigh all those options. That's a brave move."

Jolie carries the inherited BRCA gene mutations.

There's BRCA1 and BRCA2 which stand for BReast CAncer susceptibility.

Jolie's mother died of breast cancer at age 56.

Doctors say the risk of breast cancer for those with BRCA is up to 87 percent, and a risk of up to 44 percent for ovarian cancer.

Tallahassee resident Stacy Smith says, "I have an aunt who died of breast cancer. So, I go back like you're supposed to every year and get checked. I think that most women should do it."

Physicians say it is important to know your family history. They say there are several red flags for hereditary cancer.

Roy Schwartz, M.D., a general surgeon in Tallahassee, says, "If your family members have a lot of breast cancer or ovarian cancer, especially if they were younger when the breast cancer or ovarian cancer was discovered; and if there are multiple family members or male members."

Dr. Schwartz says removing both breasts may not always be the best option.

But, Jolie and others who have elected to have the surgery, say it was for them.

Genetic tests are available to check for BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations. To learn more, visit http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Risk/BRCA.


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