Jolie's Double Mastectomy Becoming More Common

Posted at: 05/14/2013 6:47 PM
By: Brittany Lewis

(ABC 6 NEWS) -- She’s a beautiful movie star who’s making a very private decision, public. Angelina Jolie has had surgery to remove both of her breasts. She made the decision after doctors estimated she had a high risk of breast and ovarian cancer because of a fault gene known as BRCA1.

"It's why me? Can't be me and so you face it and you move on you get people to help you go through this journey, it's hard to carry,” said Melanie Kasner was diagnosed with breast cancer last August. Just a month later, she had a double mastectomy, removing both of her breasts.

"It's part of you that's gone, but on the other hand it's something that I don't want to keep,” said Kasner.
While Melanie had her surgery after her diagnosis, Judy Boughey, Associate Professor of Surgery at Mayo Clinic, says a growing number of women are having their breasts removed as a way to prevent cancer.
"I think some of that is because women have become open to genetic testing,” said Boughey.

Two of the genes that could be found are BRCA 1 and BRCA 2. The genes are hereditary, carry with them a 56 to 87% chance of breast cancer, and are found in 1 in every 500 to 800 women. Angelina Jolie is one of them. In a New York Times op-ed she writes, "Once I knew this was my reality, I decided to be proactive and to minimize the risk as much I could. I made the decision to have a preventive double mastectomy.”

A bilateral double mastectomy decreases risk of breast cancer by 90 to 95%.

"But it does involve surgery, the psycho social impact of losing both of your breasts and so that's something women need to take into consideration,” said Boughey.

A difficult process that Melanie Kasner has gone through.
“Your choice is your choice. And no two women are alike and what you decide for yourself is the best thing for you,” she said.

In the article, Jolie described a three month process to have her breasts removed, but Dr. Boughey says there are single stage reconstruction that can be done in just 24 hours.