Two years after she underwent a double mastectomy to cut her cancer risk, actress and U.S. envoy Angelina Jolie has had surgery to remove her ovaries and fallopian tubes for the same reason, she said on Tuesday.
Jolie, 39, carries a mutation of the BRCA1 gene, which sharply increases her risk of developing breast cancer and ovarian cancer. Her mother was diagnosed with the latter at age 49 and died seven years later.
Jolie said she had been planning the latest preventative surgery for some time, but a blood test that revealed worrying markers accelerated the process, the Hollywood star said. Her doctor told her he wanted her to see a surgeon immediately to check her ovaries.
“I went through what I imagine thousands of other women have felt,” she wrote. “I told myself to stay calm, to be strong, and that I had no reason to think I wouldn’t live to see my children grow up and to meet my grandchildren.”
Her husband, actor and director Brad Pitt, was on a plane back from France within hours, she said.
Further tests came back negative for tumors, Jolie wrote. “There was still a chance of early stage cancer, but that was minor compared with a full-blown tumor. To my relief, I still had the option of removing my ovaries and fallopian tubes and I chose to do it.”
Jolie stresses that not all women with the same BRCA1 gene mutation as she has should feel they must automatically leap to surgery — but urges them to explore their options and take control.
She lost her grandmother and aunt to cancer, as well as her mother — combined with the gene mutation meant that in her case, the removal of her ovaries and fallopian tubes seemed the best course.
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