The big news out of Hollywood this week was actress Angelina Jolie’s decision to have a double mastectomy. Jolie says she made the decision after learning she had an increased risk of developing breast cancer because she carried had a mutation of the BRCA1 gene and her mother died of breast cancer.
University of Nebraska Medical Center professor and surgical oncologist Dr. Edibaldo Silva says this is a rare condition impacting five out of every 100 women. He says genetic testing is imperative when a woman is concerned about the risk of breast cancer. He says if a woman does not have the gene and gets breast cancer the risk of developing cancer in the opposite breast is rare so there would be no benefit of a double mastectomy. He encourages women with small early breast cancers to look at the preferred option of surgery and radiation instead of a mastectomy.
Dr. Silva says a double mastectomy in Jolie’s case was an appropriate option because her risk of breast cancer was so high and she carried the genetic mutation.