“My Medical Choice.” Angelina Jolie, 37, Publicly Explains Why She Recently Underwent A Double Mastectomy.

Via on May 14, 2013

jolie breast cancer mastectomy vanity fair

Update: Decoding Angelina Jolie. “We felt compelled to address Angelina Jolie’s recent decision to under go prophylactic double mastectomy.”

Update: relephant videos re cancer, mastectomy, alternatives:

Angelina_Jolie_Brad_Pitt_Cannes

This is public leadership.

“Kudos, Angelina Jolie. It’s awesome that she made this public.”

1 in 400 people have a BRCA mutation.

NPR has a powerful article on why the BRCA1 gene is so expensive to test for: it’s been allowed to be patented.

“It’s important to make it clear that a BRCA mutation is a special, high-risk situation,” said Dr. Monica Morrow, chief of the breast service at Sloan-Kettering. For women at very high risk, preventive mastectomy makes sense, but few women fall into that category, she said…

…“She’s the biggest name of all, and I think given her prominence and her visibility not only as a famous person but also a beautiful actress, it’s going to carry a lot of weight for women,” said Barron H. Lerner, a medical historian and the author of “The Breast Cancer Wars.” For more coverage of her announcement and decision and its impact, click here.

brangelina gay marriage vow solidarity

Via Reddit:

Preventative measures are often recommended for people with BRCA1 mutations. If a doctor ever recommends that you be tested for a BRCA mutation due to a family history of breast cancer, please do so. (edit: as long as you can cover the costs not covered by your insurance, but that’s a separate issue.) It is not “overscreening”. Many effective preventative measures can be enacted if you know you have the mutation.

Sources:

http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Risk/BRCA

http://jco.ascopubs.org/content/20/5/1260.short

http://link.springer.com/article/10.1245/s10434-007-9612-4

Via Angelina Jolie:

MY MOTHER fought cancer for almost a decade and died at 56. She held out long enough to meet the first of her grandchildren and to hold them in her arms. But my other children will never have the chance to know her and experience how loving and gracious she was.

We often speak of “Mommy’s mommy,” and I find myself trying to explain the illness that took her away from us. They have asked if the same could happen to me. I have always told them not to worry, but the truth is I carry a “faulty” gene, BRCA1, which sharply increases 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…read her full story here…Ms. Jolie’s story is #1 on all of the NY Times.

jolie

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17 Responses to ““My Medical Choice.” Angelina Jolie, 37, Publicly Explains Why She Recently Underwent A Double Mastectomy.”

  1. Kimberly Lo kimberlylowriter says:

    Some things to keep in mind. Not all doctors are in agreement over this procedure. Per Dr. Christiane Northrup on her Facebook page on this issue: "The vast majority of women who get breast cancer have NO genetic risk factors. Optimal levels of vitamin D decrease breast cancer risk by 50%. Far too many women are already getting prophylactic mastectomies for DCIS– which they will die with but not from. The combination of Jolie's celebrity and the current fear of breast cancer is a most unfortunate situation for most women. And yes– there are instances in which prophylactic surgery is indeed a sound choice. But they are very very rare."

    Frankly, I think it is Ms. Jolie's body and her choice. It's great if other women are helped by this, but even if they have the gene and opt for the procedure, it does come with a $200K price tag which some insurance plans may not cover.

    Again, all the best to Ms. Jolie and others who opt for this, but a lot of media is not doing a great service by omitting many key things.

  2. Natalie says:

    dumbest idea EVER. seriously. nothing ok with this being an example.
    fuck the cancer industry and quack doctors. RSO is curing cancers in like 3 months. i know of MANY cancer cures and the cancer industry eliminates those and those people who invent/push them. ive been on this shit for years. and fully sick of it. i do not donate to any cancer societies- ( susan g komen anyone? found to have been fraudulently using the money for promotion and other things that is not for victims. moreover, the money goes back to the industry and keeping real cures out.)

    how about she be an example by getting natural preventative therapy, going to chiro, eating raw, starting RSO, acupuncture, emotional work, energy work on dna etc. THAT would be an example. seriously the trauma her body endured by having this major surgery very most likely increased her chances even more. and the emotional trauma of not having boobs anymore. also traumatic. trauma causes cancer. biopsys CAUSE cancer. dont further irritate the delicate tissues that are at risk. fucking moronic. and add to that quack doctors, how about a second opinion? how about the money this doctor made from the surgery? oh lets have more surgeries! more money for us!!! just like the business of being born. lets induce the pregnancy- in and out and lets get another one in! C-$ection? dont mind if i do! ive had so many women have (possibly false) pap smear results- some of them only at level 1- and the doctor SCARED them into getting culposcopys. that is fucking TRAUMATIC to the cervix and to the person because it is uber painful-and most definitely increasing cancer chances. one girl had just had sex- of course your cervix cells will be a little off- regrowing from getting pounded-do doctors not use their brain these days?? also you can go take folic acid(esp with level 1) and then go get rechecked in 6 months. but no they dont tell them that. instead they scare them into a procedure that makes them money.

    ps. how about sending LOVE to your body- not having parts of it ripped of because of FEAR. think that fucks with your cancer odds? use your brain.

    there is nothing heroic or exemplary about this. a FEAR based decision. a poorly thought out decision. a possibly detrimental decision. your chances of dying during surgery( being put under anesthesia) are greater than her possibly getting that breast cancer and dying from it.

    • elephantjournal says:

      Agree re Komen, we've covered that exctensively here on elephant, search "komen" top left. As for the rest…

    • vivianne escolar says:

      I agree completely. Jolie's crazy. I rank it as self mutilation. It's money for the doctors and a bad example for women. Check out Dr. Hamer's New Medicine and the psychological aspects of cancer….!

    • trishalotzer says:

      You raise a good issue about "sending LOVE to your body" A little more LOVE in your response would be great, too, especially if you want to steer people away from choices rooted in trauma and fear.

  3. Natalie says:

    im a doctor too btw. ive done my research.

  4. Natalie says:

    read that- $ 200,000 price tag. and thats the punchline folks. wake up.

    • elephantjournal says:

      Many countries with great social public health insurance that cover those costs. The costs of a combined BCRA1 and BCRA2 test are below 1500€ in Europe. In Germany, the insurance covers all costs if breast or ovary cancer runs in the family.
      Prophylactic mastectomy is also covered most everywhere in the US (in women with BRCA mutations). For instance, here is Aetna's take on it.
      More: http://www.reddit.com/r/askscience/comments/1ebjn

      • elephantjournal says:

        Also, as we discussed on my FB page, Natalie, that's not quite right re pricetag–The Women's Health Care Act of 1998 requires insurers to cover breast reconstruction after a mastectomy.

        • Kimberly Lo kimberlylowriter says:

          That's if you have insurance and if you do, how good your plan is.

          BTW, here is the wording from The Women's Health Care Act of 1998. Note the last sentence as it is esp. significant:

          "The Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act (WHCRA) helps protect many women with breast cancer who choose to have their breasts rebuilt (reconstructed) after a mastectomy. This federal law requires most group insurance plans that cover mastectomies to also cover breast reconstruction. It was signed into law on October 21, 1998. The United States Departments of Labor and Health and Human Services oversee this law.

          "The WHCRA:

          "Applies to group health plans for plan years starting on or after October 1, 1998
          " Applies to group health plans, health insurance companies, and HMOs, as long as the plan covers medical and surgical costs for mastectomy"

          If you do not have coverage via an employer and have to pay for it out of pocket, you may end up with a plan where you would have a huge deductible or it would cover some but not all. For instance, many women are surprised that in some plans, maternity coverage is extra and there is a waiting period of up to 6 months. So, therefore, you could have health coverage and it may not pay for some or all procedure one automatically thinks would be covered.

          My husband is a UK citizen, so we could go to Britain and use the NHS if say we were going to go broke to cover a medical procedure, but not a lot of people have that option plus it raises ethical questions as I am not a British citizen and other than the two years I was a graduate student there, I never paid into the system.

          Again, though, many do not have that as an option.

  5. elephantjournal says:

    Samantha: While I practice meditation and healthy eating as well as yoga, it is not yet proven that we can change our genes etc…if I was told categorically that a part of my body was 90% likely to kill the rest of me, I would also do this too, for myself and husband, and yes for my child, of course no questiion, i would do anything for my child. As for jolie, she is an amazing responsible, life loving lady power to her !…I've seen a lot of internet posts where the people diss her for the fact that her breasts are not hers now etc etc…but it's odd how if a female gets breast augmentation for cosmetic reasons barely anyone batts an eyes these days and in fact many like it right? This lady is all integrity. I admire her.

    Frank Mattison this day in age,it is prudent,for all reasons you list,to do your due diligence verifying that the who or what that told you that this scenario is even true. There's a lot of mony to be made here and that is good,for the right reason. Millions of women were told to have full hysterectomies,when partial or none at all were reality. Caution/ Its easy with emotion and love,to be nieve.
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    Amber Leigh Florest Unless you are a geneticist and/or molecular biologist, I don't think there is much reason to dispute the scientific reasoning behind the decision. Besides, it was her personal decision and she had the balls to discuss it publicly. If you actually read her essay in the NY Times, you would see that she clearly states it was the option she chose. She was not advocating it as a be all end all for all women.
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    Colleen Pitcher Warren Big Kudos. I lost my my Mom when I was so young, after she fought both Breast and Ovarian cancer for a decade. It's horrible, and living with the anxiety of getting cancer and leaving your children behind motherless….it's awful. Good for her for having the strength to confront the issue and take the control she needed for herself and her family. And thank you, Angelina, for sharing.

    Lisa Kelley Smart woman.

  6. Kimberly Lo kimberlylowriter says:

    I might get flammed to hell & back for saying this, but I think it's way too early for some media outlets to predict that thousands of women are going to saved by Jolie going public. If it saves one life then wonderful, but it isn't like there has been some major breakthrough.

    Women I know who have had mothers and other female relatives survive or die from breast & ovarian cancer are aware of the genes. I actually did my yoga teacher training with a woman who survived the latter, found out she had the gene for breast cancer, too, and decided against having her breasts removed as a preventative measure.

    Again, not to beat a dead horse, but the vast majority of women with breast cancer have no family history and men can develop it as well which is often not mentioned in the media. (My godfather's brother died of it, in fact.)

    I hope I am wrong, but I think the media stories to follow this is going to focus more on Jolie's personal life, when/if she & Pitt will marry, and the facts about breast cancer, these procedures, etc. will hardly be mentioned.

    In any case, it is a little worrisome how NY Times writer, Nicholos Kristof's (sp) public FB now reads like something from Just Jared or a gossip site. Woe to some who questions how or why this is going to save so many lives as well as the expense of this procedure. It seems like some of Jolie's fans are acting like these are attacks against her if anyone dare raise these topics.

    Oh, and no mention of ways to reduce the risk of breast cancer other than this procedure.

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  8. Olivia says:

    Never compromise on your health, especially if you have a disease which is in your family. Breast cancer should be taken seriously and preemptive action is necessary to safeguard your health. A regular visit to your doctor I necessary to achive your helath goals..

  9. Carolinne Santos says:

    Mastectomy is a strong choice for a prevent, good for her! Seeing the positive and productive sight it's an encourge publicity for woman how has to do it and make them feel insecure about the post operation. Woman it's not just a boops!!! and have the option for breast plastic surgery BUT (and it's not a critic or negative thought) in ordinary woman reality and not just for woman for all of us, medical procedures like this one, genes tests and medical attention in general are expensive and can say unaffordable in some cases.

  10. cancercarenetfoundation says:

    It's nice on Planet Angelina, where double mastectomy can be described with words like, "small scars and that's it," or "results can be beautiful," or "days after surgery you can be back to a normal life."

    My heart breaks for women (and men) with the same increased risk that can't afford the $4000 genetic test, let alone the elective surgery and nipple saving reconstruction. Google mastectomy scar for what the reality is for non-super celebs who actually had breast cancer.

  11. nancy nielsen says:

    Do your homework. Carefully timed announcement. Myriad Genetics owns right to this gene called BRC A1…owned by a corporation It costs $3000.00 just to test for this gene stock rises after Jollies double mastectomy .http://medcitynews.com/2013/05/myriad-genetics-stock-rises-after-jolies-double-mastectomy-announcement/ Cutting off healthy breasts in not health care OR medicine.
    It's insanity.

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