At risk of developing cancer Hollywood actress Angelina Jolie opted to have both her breasts removed by undergoing preventive surgery.
Jolie has been hailed for making the heroic choice, by amongst others her partner, Hollywood heartthrob Brad Pitt.
In a New York Times op-ed article the 37-year-old explained her wish to be there for her six children, after discovering she carried the defective BRCA1 gene. Her own mother, Marcheline Bertrand died of breast cancer at the age of 56.
Dr. David Agus, Oncologist and Director of the Westside Cancer Center, USC explains the medically reasoning behind the decision: “Having a double mastectomy, the real benefit is that you dramatically reduce your risk of breast cancer. It doesn’t go to zero because there’s some breast tissue left. But it goes from – in the case of Ms. Jolie – the 80 percent range down to about five percent.”
Whilst she was undergoing the series of double mastectomy operations she travelled to the Democratic Republic of Congo in her role as Special Envoy of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees to raise awareness of sexual violence.
Saying she felt empowered by her choice and no less feminine, she hopes her decision will encourage others to make informed choices. One in five women diagnosed with breast cancer has a family history of the disease.