Angelina Jolie revealed in the New York Timestoday that she had a preventative double mastectomy surgery after learning from medical tests that she had an 87% chance of getting breast cancer because she is a carrier of the BRCA1 cancer gene.
Jolie's mother Marcheline Bertrand died in 2007 at the age of 56 from ovarian cancer, which the actress says she also has a 50% chance of developing, reports CNN.
Jolie wrote in the New York Times: "My doctors estimated that I had an 87% risk of breast cancer and a 50% 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% risk of getting it, on average."
"Once I knew that this was my reality, I decided to be proactive and to minimize the risk as much I could. I made a decision to have a preventive double mastectomy," she added. "I started with the breasts, as my risk of breast cancer is higher than my risk of ovarian cancer, and the surgery is more complex."
"On April 27, I finished the three months of medical procedures that the mastectomies involved. During that time I have been able to keep this private and to carry on with my work."
Her doctors say that Jolie's chances of developing breast cancer have now less than five per cent.
"I wanted to write this to tell other women that the decision to have a mastectomy was not easy," the 37-year-old actress wrote. "But it is one I am very happy that I made."
A preventive mastectomy is the surgical removal of one or both breasts. In a total mastectomy, surgeons remove the entire breast and nipple. In a subcutaneous mastectomy, the surgeon removes the breast tissue, but leaves the nipple intact.
"I am fortunate to have a partner, Brad Pitt, who is so loving and supportive. So to anyone who has a wife or girlfriend going through this, know that you are a very important part of the transition. Brad was at the Pink Lotus Breast Center, where I was treated, for every minute of the surgeries," wrote Jolie.