Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Angelina Jolie Has Preventive Double-Mastectomy

She didn't have cancer, but carries a gene that reportedly increases her risk of cancer, the same disease that claimed her mother's life at age 56. That sort of trauma can certainly lead one to go to almost any length in order to avoid a similar fate. Her mother did not die of breast cancer though. It was ovarian cancer that claimed her life, and this procedure does nothing to put off that danger.

So one must seriously ask whether this elective surgery was really necessary, even clearly beneficial, or simply another case of a Hollywood star eager to mutilate their own body to fulfill certain ideals. In this case, to fill an emotional void perhaps, at her mother's loss. Or perhaps even vanity, using this cancer threat as an excuse of sorts, in order to have her breasts reconstructed in a way that might make her more sexually appealing as she nears 40 years old.

Ultimately, these are all things that she must have considered herself with consultations with her doctor, but it still seems to be a dangerous precedent to have the media promoting such a drastic procedure before a woman has cancer. It doesn't seem like this is something that should be being promoted. It also seems like a slap in the face to actual cancer survivors, and to the millions of women who could never even hope to afford such an elective procedure.

(CNN) -- Actress Angelina Jolie announced in a New York Times op-ed article on Tuesday that she underwent a preventive double mastectomy after learning that she carries a mutation of the BRCA1 gene, which sharply increases her 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 wrote. "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."

Jolie's mother, actress and producer Marcheline Bertrand, died of ovarian cancer in 2007 at the age of 56. Jolie is 37 years old.

In the Times op-ed, titled "My Medical Choice," Jolie said she finished three months of medical procedures at the Pink Lotus Breast Center in California on April 27 that included the mastectomies and reconstruction.

A mastectomy is an operation that removes all or part of the breast.

She wrote that her experience involved a three-step process. On February 2, the actress had a procedure that increases the chance that the nipple can be saved. Two weeks later, she had major surgery where the breast tissue was removed and temporary fillers were put in place. Nine weeks later, she described undergoing "reconstruction of the breasts with an implant."

"There have been many advances in this procedure in the last few years," she said, "and the results can be beautiful."

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