Health & Beauty

Why Angelina Jolie Chose to Remove Her Ovaries, Her Courageous Decision

Why Angelina Jolie Chose to Remove Her Ovaries, Her Courageous Decision
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Angelina Jolie, who underwent a preventive double mastectomy two years ago, made the decision to have her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed after doctors detected a possible sign of early cancer.

The 39-year-old actress wrote a New York Times op-ed titled, “Diary of a Surgery” explaining her decision to undergo the surgery last week because she carries a gene that gave her a 50 percent risk of developing ovarian cancer.

A cancer expert says that Jolie did the right thing.
Dr. Maggie DiNome, a Breast Cancer Specialist and the Acting Directing of the Margie Petersen Breast Center, who has not treated Jolie, agrees with her decision. “Angelina Jolie made a very brave, proactive and lifesaving choice to do the surgeries.” She continued, “We don’t have good screenings for ovarian cancer, not at all.”

Dr. DiNome went on to explain there is no guarantee Jolie will not get ovarian cancer. “While she is certainly in the clear that she’s done whatever she can, she’s lowered her risk to as low as technically possible, we can’t  give her zero percent risk.”

"I went through what I imagine thousands of other women have felt," Jolie wrote. "I told myself to stay calm, to be strong, and that I had no reason to think I wouldn't live to see my children grow up and to meet my grandchildren."

Jolie’s very public and controversial decision sparked debate with her first preventive surgery, with a so-called “Angelina Jolie Effect” erupting. Researchers said more women considered genetic testing and elective surgeries to reduce their risk of cancer because of this phenomenon.

Dr. DiNome said she does believe Jolie saved lives by coming out with her personal story, and thinks this latest announcement will affect more women. “You don’t want to overreact, but be aware, so if you do have a family history of ovarian cancer, you should see somebody to get tested to figure out if you are a hereditary carrier of a mutation.”

Jolie’s fight and her courageous decision gave many women hope about their health.

"I wanted other women at risk to know about the options. I promised to follow up with any information that could be useful, including about my next preventive surgery, the removal of my ovaries and fallopian tubes."

After a blood test revealed high levels of inflammatory markers that could be signs of early cancer, Jolie underwent further tests.

Husband Brad Pitt rushed to her side. "I called my husband in France, who was on a plane within hours. The beautiful thing about such moments in life is that there is so much clarity. You know what you live for and what matters. It is polarizing, and it is peaceful."

“That same day I went to see the surgeon,” Jolie revealed, “who had treated my mother. I last saw her the day my mother passed away, and she teared up when she saw me. But we smiled at each other and agreed we were there to deal with any problem, so let’s get on with it.”

Regardless of the hormone replacements Jolie takes, she revealed she is now in menopause, and “I will not be able to have any more children.”

Jolie now wears a small clear patch that contains bio-identical estrogen, and a progesterone IUD was inserted in her uterus which will help her maintain a hormonal balance, but more importantly, it will prevent uterine cancer.

Dr. DiNome says this is a good option for Jolie. “She is going on hormone replacement because she is so young.”

“I feel feminine, and grounded in the choices I am making for myself and my family,” said Jolie. “I know my children will never have to say, ‘Mom died of ovarian cancer.’”

Jolie concluded with, “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.”