Angelina Jolie speaking at the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict in 2014
Two years after she had a double mastectomy to reduce her chances of developing breast cancer, Angelina Jolie has chosen to have her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed in order to protect herself from ovarian cancer. The actress has a faulty BRCA1 gene, which places her at higher risk of developing both these diseases. She has opted to be open about her treatment, writing in today's New York Times, in the hope of making others more aware of their options.
Jolie lost her mother to breast cancer and was recently told that she had symptoms often seen in the body just prior to the development of ovarian cancer, so felt that immediate surgery was the safest option. Although oophorectomy is a much simpler operation that mastectomy, it has more dramatic effects on the body because it removes a major source of hormone production and thereby triggers many of the symptoms of menopause. Patients are afterwards at greater risk of osteoporosis (brittle bone disease) and cardiovascular problems. Jolie has elected to received artificial hormone treatment, which reduces these risks. Diet and exercise can also make a difference.
The actress' surgery means that she will no longer be able to get pregnant. She currently has three children who are biologically hers and three she has adopted, and says that the important thing is knowing that she will be around for them as they grow up.