Angelina Jolie Has Both Breasts Surgically Removed to Prevent Cancer


Angelina Jolie, one of Hollywood’s most successful and sexiest stars, has undergone a preventative double mastectomy because of a gene she possesses that “sharply increases [her] risk of developing breast cancer and ovarian cancer,” she said in a NY Times op-ed today.

The gene, BRCA1, increases a woman’s chance of getting breast cancer to 65% on average. Jolie’s mother died of breast cancer at the age of 56.

Jolie, along with her Hollywood partner Brad Pitt have three biological children and three adopted children from various countries, and the couple didn’t want their kids growing up without a mother, so she was happy to go through the the greuling surgeries required to complete the double mastectomy. In the Times, Jolie wrote:

My own process began on Feb. 2 with a procedure known as a “nipple delay,” which rules out disease in the breast ducts behind the nipple and draws extra blood flow to the area. This causes some pain and a lot of bruising, but it increases the chance of saving the nipple.

Two weeks later I had the major surgery, where the breast tissue is removed and temporary fillers are put in place. The operation can take eight hours. You wake up with drain tubes and expanders in your breasts. It does feel like a scene out of a science-fiction film. But days after surgery you can be back to a normal life.

Nine weeks later, the final surgery is completed with the reconstruction of the breasts with an implant. There have been many advances in this procedure in the last few years, and the results can be beautiful.

I wanted to write this to tell other women that the decision to have a mastectomy was not easy. But it is one I am very happy that I made. My chances of developing breast cancer have dropped from 87 percent to under 5 percent. I can tell my children that they don’t need to fear they will lose me to breast cancer.

Jolie has been actively involved in humanitarian causes, particularly in cases of political refugees in countries like Bosnia, Cambodia and Iraq. She said that she hopes to be an example for other women around the world to know that they have a choice.

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. 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.

Life comes with many challenges. The ones that should not scare us are the ones we can take on and take control of.

Leave a Reply