I’m sure by now you’ve read Angelina Jolie’s op-ed , which appeared in the New York Times this morning, about her decision to undergo a preventative double mastectomy. To recap: The actress’s mother, Marcheline Bertrand, died of ovarian cancer back in 2007, so Jolie decided to get tested to see if she carries a gene mutation that would increase her risk for both breast and ovarian cancer. Turns out, she does.
Jolie learned that since she carries the BRCA1 mutation, she has a 50 percent risk of developing ovarian cancer and an 87 percent risk (!) for developing breast cancer. That’s why back in February, she began the process of undergoing preventative double mastectomy, which included a nipple-sparing procedure, mastectomy and reconstruction—all of which she was able to keep private.
But she decided to speak out about it now, she writes, “because I hope that other women can benefit from my experience. Cancer is still a word that strikes fear into people’s hearts, producing a deep sense of powerlessness. But today it is possible to find out through a blood test whether you are highly susceptible to breast and ovarian cancer, and then take action.”
This morning, I spoke with Jennifer Simmons, chief of breast surgery and director of the Women’s Center at Einstein Medical Center Montgomery, about who should get tested for BRCA mutations, what the medical treatment entails, and what Angelina Jolie and others can expect post-op.