Angelina Jolie has undergone a preventative double mastectomy to reduce her chances of getting breast cancer, the actress has revealed.
In a powerful article for the New York Times, Jolie, 37, wrote: “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% risk of breast cancer and a 50% risk of ovarian cancer.
“Once I knew that this was my reality, I decided to be proactive and to minimise the risk as much I could. I made a decision to have a preventive double mastectomy.”
Jolie said her medical procedures began on 2 February and ended with reconstructive surgery on 27 April. “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% to under 5%. I can tell my children that they don’t need to fear they will lose me to breast cancer.”
She added: “I do not feel any less of a woman. I feel empowered that I made a strong choice that in no way diminishes my femininity.”
The timeline revealed by Jolie means she was in the middle of her medical treatment in March, when she made global news by touring the Democratic Republic of Congo with British foreign secretary William Hague as part of a campaign for international action against mass rape in conflicts.
Jolie praised her partner, Brad Pitt, for being “loving and supportive” throughout the procedures, which took place at the Pink Lotus Breast Center in Beverly Hills. “To anyone who has a wife or girlfriend going through this, know that you are a very important part of the transition,” Jolie said.
On her decision to go public, Jolie said: “There are many women who do not know that they might be living under the shadow of cancer. It is my hope that they, too, will be able to get gene tested, and that if they have a high risk they, too, will know that they have strong options.
“Life comes with many challenges. The ones that should not scare us are the ones we can take on and take control of.”