Can a double-mastectomy really reduce your risk of getting cancer?
Hollywood star, Angelina Jolie underwent surgery to have a double mastectomy in hopes of reducing her risks of having breast cancer, according to The Telegraph. Jolie’s mother died after fighting for nearly ten years with breast cancer at the age of 56, so Jolie was tested for the gene that is known to cause breast cancer, BRCA 1.
According to the star, doctors told her that because of her having the BRCA 1 gene she had a 87 percent chance of developing breast cancer and a 50 percent chance of developing ovarian cancer. Having a double mastectomy reduced her risks of having breast cancer to under five percent.
BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 Genes: What Are They?
BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 stand for breast cancer susceptibility gene 1 and 2. Everyone has the BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 gene – these genes help ensure the stability of the cell’s genetic makeup and help prevent uncontrolled cell growth. However, sometimes these cells mutate in such a way that they can dramatically increase your risk for breast cancer and even ovarian cancer.
Men can also inherit the BRCA gene and can increase their risk of breast cancer and possibly pancreatic cancer, testicular cancer, and early-onset prostate cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute.
Genetic Testing for Cancer Susceptibility
So you now you may be wondering if you are carrying the mutated form of these genes. According to the National Cancer Institute, if you have any of the following risk factors, you may be carrying the BRCA genes:
- Does your family have multiple cases of breast cancer?
- Does your family have cases of breast and ovarian cancers?
- Do you have one or more family members with two primary cancers (original tumors that develop on different sites of the body)?
- Are you of Ashkenazi Jewish background?