Preventative Care: Angelina Jolie & Her Most Recent Health Decision

Last week, the media was buzzing about Angelina Jolie and her most recent decision to have her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed for preventative measures.  As you may know, the actress made headlines a while back for opting to undergo a double mastectomy after a blood test revealed that she carried the mutation in the BRCA1 gene, which increased her risk of breast cancer to 87% and her risk of ovarian cancer to 50% (see our blog post on the topic entitled Breast Friends: Breast Cancer Prevention With BRCA).  This positive blood test, combined with the strong family history of breast and ovarian cancer, led Jolie to her ultimate decision of double mastectomy.

On March 24, 2015, Angelina Jolie penned an op-ed for The New York Times, describing her most recent preventative surgery and what led her to choose to remove her ovaries and fallopian tubes.  What stemmed from an annual call from her doctor with her CA-125 test results that showed some inflammatory markers (although the test itself was negative), she took his recommendation to see the surgeon.  After further testing, the news was all positive, however Jolie still, to her “relief”, had the option available to remove her ovaries and fallopian tubes.  Although this procedure would fast-track her into menopause and eliminate any chances of having more children she elected to move forward with the surgery, though Jolie did opt to keep her uterus and cervix.

Though these types of decisions aren’t to be made lightly or rashly, it’s an important sign of the times in healthcare.  Now, women have an increasing amount of choices when it comes to their health and deciding what’s best for them – a far cry from decades before.  In fact, Jolie spoke specifically to that sentiment in her op-ed piece saying, “It is not easy to make these decisions. But it is possible to take control and tackle head-on any health issue. You can seek advice, learn about the options and make choices that are right for you. Knowledge is power” – and we couldn’t agree more!

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