Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Angelina Jolie and Risk Reduction Surgery

You may remember the story of Angelina Jolie's decision to have her breasts removed as she was a very high risk for breast cancer. Now, she's undergone further surgery to remove her tubes and ovaries.

From the NY Times:

“Prophylactic removal of ovaries and fallopian tubes is strongly recommended in women before age 40 in BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutation carriers,” said Dr. Susan Domchek, executive director of the University of Pennsylvania’s Basser Research Center, which specializes in BRCA mutations. “There is no effective screening for ovarian cancer and too many women with advanced stage ovarian cancer die of their disease.”

Writing for The New York Times’s Op-Ed page, Ms. Jolie Pitt, 39, said she had expected to have her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed, a procedure called a laparoscopic bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy, but that a cancer scare made her decide to undergo the procedure sooner. Her mother, aunt and grandmother died of cancer.

“To my relief, I still had the option of removing my ovaries and fallopian tubes and I chose to do it,” she wrote.

Two years ago, she ignited a worldwide discussion about options for women at high risk for breast cancer when she wrote that she had had both breasts removed because BRCA1, the same genetic mutation that prompted her surgery last week, increased her risk of breast cancer.

Allow me to clear up one misconception. This is not "Prophylactic Surgery" but rather Risk Reduction Surgery. Even following removal of the tubes and ovaries, there is a small residual risk of cancer inside the abdominal cavity, histologically identical to ovarian cancer.

For more info, you can go here.

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