Angelina Jolie reveals the she had double mastectomy after BRCA1 gene test revealed she had 87% chance of breast cancer

 

Tributes have been being paid to actress Angelina Jolie who today told the world that she underwent a double mastectomy to cut her risk of breast cancer.

The Hollywood star said she took the decision to have three months of medical procedures when doctors told her she had an 87% risk of breast cancer and a 50% risk of ovarian cancer.

Writing the the New York Times, Jolie said she carries the "faulty" gene BRCA1, which sharply increases her risk of developing breast cancer and ovarian cancer.

Foreign Secretary William Hague, who in March visited refugee camps in the Democratic Republic of Congo with Jolie as part of a campaign to highlight the problem of mass rape in conflict areas, said she was "a courageous lady" who would be "an inspiration to many".

Mr Hague told Sky News: "She is a courageous lady and a very professional lady. She's done a lot of work with me in recent months.

"She also came over to the G8 foreign ministers' summit in London to work with me on our initiative on preventing sexual violence in conflict and travelled with me through some difficult places in the Congo.

"She gave no sign that she was undergoing such treatment and I think she's a very brave lady, not only to carry on with her work so well during such treatment, but also to write about it now and talk about it. I think that she's a brave lady and will be an inspiration to many."

Pop star Michelle Heaton also hailed Jolie's decision to publicise her double mastectomy as "incredibly important" in giving support and encouragement to other women in a similar situation.

The Liberty X singer underwent a double mastectomy last year.

"I can't even stress how much of an impact I had, saying that I was going through this, on women - especially through Twitter and people writing to me.

"It was such a huge impact and I know that I have had hundreds of women who have gone for this test and subsequently found that they had the BRCA gene and they can then make an informed decision," she told ITV's Daybreak.

"Imagine what impact somebody as huge as Angelina Jolie can have on this.

"I really do think that the BRCA gene has only really come to light over the last year or two. It is a massive thing that women need to learn about and know that, if this runs in your family, you need to go and get tested because there are huge options and the options available are incredibly amazing - it shouldn't be too scary for you if you have the right information."

Heaton said it was "amazing" that Jolie had managed to keep the operation private for so long.

"I think it is has been about three months since she has had the operation... and she feels that it is time now to come out and tell everybody what she has gone through. It has been amazing that she has been able to keep it so private," she said.

"I know how much she has gone through - it is identical. I decided to have the double mastectomy pretty much as soon as I found out that I carried the gene, reconstruction on the same day.

"The reason that I did it was because I have a little baby girl and I didn't want her asking me later on in life 'Has Mummy got a chance of dying sooner rather than later?' and I never wanted that to be an option."

Heaton said the options available to women in a similar situation were "amazing".

"What they did with myself was unbelievable. I don't know what I was expecting after the operation, but what I was given, what I saw in the mirror, just was fabulous.

"As a woman to not look down and see something that made me cry every day - what I see is something that looks relatively normal, that looks like myself."

Wendy Watson, who founded the National Hereditary Breast Cancer Helpline, welcomed Jolie's decision to publicise her double mastectomy. Mrs Watson, from near Bakewell, Derbyshire, under went a double mastectomy in 1992, aged 37 years old.

"It is excellent, because it is the highest profile you can get for it," she said. "It raises the profile for other women to look to if they have a family history and would benefit from being screened more frequently, or having surgery or having a genetic test.

"She (Jolie) probably feels that under going the operation is common sense but it probably does take a certain amount of courage to face it."

Baroness Delyth Morgan, chief executive of Breast Cancer Campaign, said: "Angelina's openness in talking about her own experience and her decision to have surgery raises crucial awareness of breast cancer and its genetic risk.

"Deciding whether to have preventative surgery is a heart-rending decision for women like Angelina but we know it's a vital way of saving lives.

"This is a stark reminder of how much more research we need to do to give women more knowledge, choice and life-saving options to reduce their risk.

"If you are at all concerned that you may have an inherited mutation in your family and want further advice, your GP will be able to provide more information and help."

Writing in The New York Times, the Tomb Raider actress said she finished the three months of medical procedures on April 27, and added: "During that time I have been able to keep this private and to carry on with my work."

Paying tribute to Pitt, Jolie said: "I am fortunate to have a partner, Brad Pitt, who is so loving and supportive.

"So to anyone who has a wife or girlfriend going through this, know that you are a very important part of the transition.

"Brad was at the Pink Lotus Breast Centre, where I was treated, for every minute of the surgeries.

"We managed to find moments to laugh together. We knew this was the right thing to do for our family and that it would bring us closer. And it has."

The 37-year-old star said she was writing about the ordeal, in an article titled My Medical Choice, in the hope that other women can benefit from her experience.

Jolie, whose mother had cancer and died at 56, said waking up from the operation can feel "like a scene out of a science-fiction film" .

She said the decision to have the mastectomy was not easy but that she was happy to have gone ahead with it.

Urging women to get checked out, the star said: "For any woman reading this, I hope it helps you to know you have options.

"I want to encourage every woman, especially if you have a family history of breast or ovarian cancer, to seek out the information and medical experts who can help you through this aspect of your life, and to make your own informed choices."

PA

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump

TV

Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

film
Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

TV
Arts and Entertainment
William Pooley from Suffolk is flying out to Free Town, Sierra Leone, to continue working in health centres to fight Ebola after surviving the disease himself

music
Arts and Entertainment
The Newsroom creator Aaron Sorkin

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Berry (centre), the star of Channel 4 sitcom 'Toast of London'

TVA disappointingly dull denouement
Arts and Entertainment
Tales from the cryptanalyst: Benedict Cumberbatch in 'The Imitation Game'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Pixie Lott has been voted off Strictly Come Dancing 2014

Strictly
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
    La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

    Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

    The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
    10 best high-end laptops

    10 best high-end laptops

    From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
    Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

    Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

    The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
    Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

    Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

    The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
    Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

    'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

    After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
    Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

    Homeless Veterans campaign

    Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
    Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

    Meet Racton Man

    Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
    Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

    Garden Bridge

    St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
    Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

    Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

    An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
    Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

    Joint Enterprise

    The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
    Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

    Freud and Eros

    Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum