As a Hollywood star and humanitarian, Angelina Jolie has a huge platform to reach people and grab their attention. Her opinion piece in the New York Times on having surgery to remove her ovaries and fallopian tubes has sparked a lot of reaction.
Jolie starts the piece by saying she lost her mother, grandmother and aunt to cancer. She also tested positive for a mutation in the BRCA1 gene, which raises her risk for getting breast and ovarian cancers greatly. Two years ago, she elected to have a double mastectomy.
In the opinion piece, Jolie writes that she decided to have the surgery last week after being told she had possible early signs of ovarian cancer.
Dr. Wendel Naumann, Associate Director of Gynecologic Oncology at the Levine Cancer Institute, said he agrees with Jolie's decision based on her family history and genetic test. He said it's important for women to know their history and get genetic counseling to see if they should be tested.
Insurance plans vary greatly, but Dr. Naumann said most carriers will cover the testing and preventative surgery, if there's a future risk of developing cancer.
Find more information from the National Cancer Institute on genetic testing and the risk of getting breast and ovarian cancers, by clicking here. Mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes account for up to 10-percent of all breast cancers and up to 15-percent of all ovarian cancers.