(Photo: Reuters/Mario Anzuoni)
Celebrated Oscar-winning actress Angelina Jolie, 37, revealed on Tuesday that she recently completed preventive double mastectomy due to a "faulty" gene that left her susceptible to an 87 percent chance of developing breast cancer.
The actress made the revelation in a New York Times op-ed titled, "My Medical Choice."
Citing the influence of her mother who battled then died from cancer at age 56, Jolie explained that when doctors told her she carried the "faulty" BRCA1 gene, which increased her chances of developing both breast and ovarian cancer, she decided to be proactive.
"My doctors estimated that I had an 87 percent risk of breast cancer and a 50 percent risk of ovarian cancer…Those with a defect in BRCA1 have a 65 percent risk of getting it, on average," wrote Jolie.
"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 noted.
Jolie revealed that the preventive procedure was a three-month process, which she completed on April 27.
She further explained that she decided to go public with her decision to bring awareness to the disease and available treatment for it and encourage other women to be proactive in dealing with cancer.
"I am writing about it now because I hope that other women can benefit from my experience. Cancer is still a word that strikes fear into people's hearts, producing a deep sense of powerlessness. But today it is possible to find out through a blood test whether you are highly susceptible to breast and ovarian cancer, and then take action," said Jolie.
"I wanted to write this to tell other women that the decision to have a mastectomy was not easy. But it is one I am very happy that I made. My chances of developing breast cancer have dropped from 87 percent to under 5 percent. I can tell my children that they don't need to fear they will lose me to breast cancer," added Jolie.
She praised her partner, fellow actor Brad Pitt, for his support throughout the process.
"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 noted.
"For any woman reading this, I hope it helps you to know you have options. I want to encourage every woman, especially if you have a family history of breast or ovarian cancer, to seek out the information and medical experts who can help you through this aspect of your life, and to make your own informed choices," she added.