Angelina Jolie's Mastectomy: BRCA Testing in the Spotlight

Kate Johnson

May 16, 2013

In This Article

Jolie's Decision

Prophylactic double mastectomy is a choice that often sparks debate, sometimes shock and disbelief, and always emotion.

"Once I knew that this was my reality, I decided to be proactive and to minimize the risk as much I could," wrote Jolie. "I started with the breasts, as my risk of breast cancer is higher than my risk of ovarian cancer."

Speaking to the New York Times, breast surgeon Susan Love, MD, said, "When you have to cut off normal body parts to prevent a disease, that's really pretty barbaric when you think about it."

But Jolie's decision was "a very, very solid choice, a reasonable choice, especially in the face of such alarming high risk of breast cancer and ovarian cancer," said Dr. Swain.

Dr. Madlensky agreed. "For someone who tests positive for BRCA mutation, its actually not radical at all. Its one of the options that is medically appropriate."

Other options for women with this mutation are medication (tamoxifen or raloxifene) or screening, "but we know screening is not preventative. It only hopes to find a cancer as early as possible," said Dr. Litton.

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