Los Angeles: Hollywood actress Angelina Jolie says she has had a double mastectomy to reduce her risk of getting breast cancer and that her partner Brad Pitt was very supportive.
Jolie’s mother died of breast cancer at 56.
The 37-year-old said she had had reconstructive surgery with implants, nine weeks after the operation at the start of February.
“I carried a ‘faulty’ gene, BRCA1, which sharply increased my risk of developing breast cancer and ovarian cancer. 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,” Jolie said in a first person account in the New York Times.
“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. 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. 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,” she added.
Jolie said that on April 27, she finished the three months of medical procedures that the mastectomies involved.
“During that time I had been able to keep this private and to carry on with my work. But I am writing about it now because I hope that other women can benefit from my experience,” she wrote further.
Discussing her minimal scars after surgery, Jolie said: “On a personal note, I do not feel any less of a woman. I feel empowered that I made a strong choice that in no way diminishes my femininity.”
Crediting her partner Brad Pitt for his support, she added that the procedure had brought them closer as a couple.
“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. We managed to find moments to laugh together. We knew this was the right thing to do for our family and that it would bring us closer. And it has,” she wrote.
Breast cancer alone kills some 458,000 people each year, according to the World Health Organization, mainly in low-and middle-income countries.
“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,” said Jolie.