Actress Angelina Jolie Pitt went public two years ago with her choice to have a double mastectomy as a preventive measure to avoid breast cancer.
Jolie Pitt announced in an op-ed for The New York Times on March 24 that she has also chosen to have her healthy ovaries and fallopian tubes removed for the same reason.
Jolie Pitt said her doctors two years ago found she "carried a mutation in the BRCA1 gene," which gave her "an estimated 87 percent risk of breast cancer and a 50 percent risk of ovarian cancer."
Jolie Pitt also admitted that two doctors recently ran multiple tests that all came back negative for cancer.
Despite the good news, she says she still decided to have her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed:
"In my case, the Eastern and Western doctors I met agreed that surgery to remove my tubes and ovaries was the best option, because on top of the BRCA gene, three women in my family have died from cancer. My doctors indicated I should have preventive surgery about a decade before the earliest onset of cancer in my female relatives. My mother’s ovarian cancer was diagnosed when she was 49. I’m 39.
"...It is not possible to remove all risk, and the fact is I remain prone to cancer. I will look for natural ways to strengthen my immune system. I feel feminine, and grounded in the choices I am making for myself and my family. I know my children will never have to say, 'Mom died of ovarian cancer.'"
Jolie Pitt also mentioned the range of options for women who have the BRCA gene, besides surgery.
Reuters notes, "Surgery to remove the ovaries and fallopian tubes to reduce the risk of cancer has become an option more women are choosing. But it does not eliminate the risk of the disease because ovarian cancer can also strike the cells that line the abdomen."
According to the National Cancer Institute website:
"Ovarian cancer: About 1.4 percent of women in the general population will develop ovarian cancer sometime during their lives. By contrast, according to the most recent estimates, 39 percent of women who inherit a harmful BRCA1 mutation and 11 to 17 percent of women who inherit a harmful BRCA2 mutation will develop ovarian cancer by age 70 years.
"...It is also important to note that other characteristics of a particular woman can make her risk higher or lower than the average risks. These characteristics include her family history of breast, ovarian, and, possibly, other cancers; the specific mutation(s) she has inherited; and other risk factors, such as her reproductive history. However, none of these other factors is as strong as the effect of carrying a harmful BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation."