Cancer experts laud Angelina Jolie's decision to remove ovaries

Tue Mar 24, 2015 4:04pm EDT
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By Patricia Reaney and Sharon Begley

(Reuters) - Two years after a double mastectomy, actress Angelina Jolie has had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to avoid the risk of ovarian cancer, a move cancer experts described as courageous and influential.

The movie director and philanthropist, who is the wife of actor Brad Pitt and the mother of six children, said in an op-ed column in the New York Times on Tuesday that she had the surgery last week after blood tests showed what could have been early signs of the disease.

Jolie, 39, carries a mutation in the BRCA1 gene that increases her risk for breast and ovarian cancer. Her mother died of ovarian cancer at the age of 56.

Cancer specialists praised the Hollywood star's second public revelation for increasing awareness about genetic testing and prophylactic surgery to reduce the risk of breast and ovarian cancer.

"My hat is off to her," said Dr. Robert DeBernardo, a gynecologic oncologist at the Cleveland Clinic’s Ob/Gyn & Women’s Health Institute. "She is doing a lot of good for women worldwide by raising awareness of BRCA testing and options women have."

"It was incredibly courageous," said Dr. Marleen Meyers, an assistant professor of medicine at NYU Langone's Laura and Isaac Perlmutter Cancer Center.

Jolie said she went public with her decision so women would know about options available to them.

"I went through what I imagine thousands of other women have felt," Jolie 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."   Continued...

Actress and campaigner Angelina Jolie attends a summit to end sexual violence in conflict, at the Excel centre in London June 12, 2014. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor