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Angelina Jolie’s decision to have a double Mastectomy

Actress Angelina Jolie bravely revealed that she chose to have a preventive double mastectomy. She wrote an Op-Ed piece entitled “My Medical Choice” in The New York Times. She carries a mutated BRCA1 gene which increases her risk of breast and ovarian cancers. Angelina describes her decision to undergo surgery after her mother died from breast cancer at age 56.

Jolie explained her risks:

My doctors estimated that I had an 87 percent risk of breast cancer and a 50 percent risk of ovarian cancer, although the risk is different in the case of each woman.

Only a fraction of breast cancers result from an inherited gene mutation. Those with a defect in BRCA1 have a 65 percent risk of getting it, on average.

Jolie’s decision to share her story is raising awareness of breast cancer risks and the costs associated with prevention. BRCA testing costs around $3,000 and is not always covered by insurance. According to the National Cancer Institute, “premiums or contributions to a group health plan cannot be increased based on the genetic information of an individual(s) enrolled in the plan”. Federal law requires insurance companies to pay for breast reconstruction on both breasts after a single or double mastectomy.

Read Angelina Jolie’s story | Read more about breast reconstruction after mastectomy | View before and after mastectomy photos