Doctors Say Angelina Jolie Did Right Thing With Surgery Over 'Jewish' Cancer Gene

Double Mastectomy 'Justified' by Medical Risk

getty images

By Reuters

Published May 14, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

Angelina Jolie’s decision to have a double mastectomy to prevent breast cancer may have stunned fans of the Oscar-winning actress, but doctors say her choice is shared by many other women with a high genetic risk for breast cancer.

Jolie, who described her surgery and three-month recovery at length in an opinion piece in the New York Times on Tuesday, says she hopes her experience will encourage other women with a family risk of breast cancer to get tested.

Cancer experts said that Jolie’s treatment was an informed choice - reducing her risk of developing cancer from 87 percent to less than 5 percent - and hope that it can help frame the discussion for patients facing a similar decision.

For years, researchers have been warning about increases in the use of preventive mastectomy among women with lesser risks than Jolie. A study by Dr. Michel Sable of the University of Michigan Medical School last November found that 70 percent of breast cancer patients who receive a double mastectomy don’t have a clinical reason for getting the procedure.

In 90 percent of those cases, fear that a cancer might come back was the reason for the decision, the researchers found.

Dr Isabelle Bedrosian, a surgical oncologist at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, calls that approach “overkill,” as there is no proof that a double mastectomy helps women who have had breast cancer in one breast.

That was not the case with Jolie, who did not have cancer but sought treatment because of her family’s high risk of breast cancer.

“Angelina Jolie’s situation is very different. In her context, I think moving ahead with a double mastectomy is appropriate and is fully justified oncologically as well,” she said.

Jolie tested positive for a harmful mutation in one of the BRCA genes, making her about five times more likely to develop breast cancer than women who do not carry this mutation, according to the U.S. National Cancer Institute.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • "Mark your calendars: It was on Sunday, July 20, that the momentum turned against Israel." J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis on Israel's ground operation in Gaza:
  • What do you think?
  • "To everyone who is reading this article and saying, “Yes, but… Hamas,” I would ask you to just stop with the “buts.” Take a single moment and allow yourself to feel this tremendous loss. Lay down your arms and grieve for the children of Gaza."
  • Professor Dan Markel, 41 years old, was found shot and killed in his Tallahassee home on Friday. Jay Michaelson can't explain the death, just grieve for it.
  • Employees complained that the food they received to end the daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan was not enough (no non-kosher food is allowed in the plant). The next day, they were dismissed.
  • Why are peace activists getting beat up in Tel Aviv? http://jd.fo/s4YsG
  • Backstreet's...not back.
  • Before there was 'Homeland,' there was 'Prisoners of War.' And before there was Claire Danes, there was Adi Ezroni. Share this with 'Homeland' fans!
  • BREAKING: Was an Israeli soldier just kidnapped in Gaza? Hamas' military wing says yes.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.