Menu JTA Search

Angelina Jolie, carrier of “Jewish” cancer gene, gets double mastectomy

SIGN UP FOR THE JTA DAILY BRIEFING

Angelina Jolie speaking at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington as part of the promotion for her new film, "In the Land of Blood and Honey,"Jan 10, 2012.  (U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum)

Dead at the age of 56 after years of fighting breast cancer, Angelina Jolie’s mother never had the chance to meet five of Jolie’s six children. In an attempt to avoid a similar fate, in February the Oscar-winning actress underwent a preventive double mastectomy.

“I have always told [my children] not to worry, but the truth is I carry a ‘faulty’ gene, BRCA1, which sharply increases my risk of developing breast cancer and ovarian cancer,” the actress, 37, wrote in Tuesday’s New York Times.

The BRCA1 mutation, especially common in Jewish women, puts Jolie at an 87 percent risk of breast cancer and a 50 percent risk of ovarian cancer.

As Jolie points out, Breast cancer kills 458,000 people each year, according to the World Health Organization. It is estimated that one in 300 to one in 500 women carry a BRCA 1 or BRCA 2 gene mutation,

In the piece she describes the surgery, emphasizing her relatively quick recovery. She also gives a shout out to partner and fiance Brad Pitt, who was loving and supportive throughout her three months of treatment.

Kudos to the typically private Jolie, who writes that she has chosen to share her story in order to help other women.

“There are many women who do not know that they might be living under the shadown of cancer. It is my hope that they, too, will be able to get gene tested.”

NEXT STORY