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Angelina Jolie mastectomy 'still major surgery,' University of Chicago doctor says

May 14, 2013 9:20:42 AM PDT
One of the world's biggest stars, Oscar award-winning actress Angelina Jolie, announced overnight that she had a preventive double mastectomy.

Jolie revealed her very personal decision to The New York Times. She made the difficult decision after learning she carried the BRCA1 gene, which increases a woman's risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer.

Jolie's own mother died of cancer in 2007 at the age of 56.

Jolie hopes her choice encourages other women to be proactive about their health, but the chief of plastic surgery at the University of Chicago Medicine, Dr. David Song, says potential patients need to seriously think about the surgery.

"It's still major surgery," said Dr. Song. "I think people need to understand that. We need to be very clear about prophylactic mastectomy, or removing breasts that aren't affected by disease. That's very important to understand the risks of infection, blood loss, you'll lose sensation, affecting intimacy perhaps."

In The New York Times op-ed, Jolie says:

"The decision to have a mastectomy was not easy. But it is one I am very happy that I made I can tell my children that they don't need to fear they will lose me to breast cancer."

Jolie also thanked her long-time partner Brad Pitt for his support.

Her first surgery was on February 2, a second surgery two weeks later and finally, on April 27, she completed the process with breast reconstruction surgery.

Jolie's doctors say her chances of developing breast cancer have dropped from 87 percent to under 5 percent.

"I got emails from all over the country from either my colleagues, patients or former patients," Dr. Song said, "and it is definitely a highlight to get the issue in the forefront of people's minds."


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