Angelina Jolie Inspires Rise in Preventative Double Mastectomies

Wednesday 25th November 2015

An NHS clinic has said that Hollywood superstar Angelina Jolie’s decision to have a double mastectomy has inspired more women to undergo the procedure.

According to researchers at Manchester’s Genesis Prevention Centre Family History clinic, there has been an increase in the amount of women undergoing a preventative double mastectomy in recent years.

In 2013, Angelina announced she had had a double mastectomy to decrease her risk of developing breast cancer.

Writing in a New York publication, the actress revealed that due to a hereditary gene, doctors predicted she had an estimated 50% risk of ovarian cancer and an 87% risk of breast cancer.

Researchers from the Genesis Prevention Centre wrote a letter in the Breast Cancer Research open access journal that said preventative double mastectomies carried out at the clinic had increased by more than double between January 2014 and June 2015.

During this period, there were a total of 83 procedures. This rose from 29 between January 2011 and June the following year.

Women have an elevated risk of ovarian and breast if they are a carrier of the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genetic faults.

The experts also said the effect of Angelina’s operation and her courage in making it public has brought a larger amount of referrals in to the clinic, covering a population of around five million.

The researchers said that although the key impact of Angelina’s story was in 2013 the trend carried on through the following year, with referrals increasing from 201 in 2012 to 388 in 2014 and increasing by 366 for the final six months. This gives an overall total of 754 for last year.

They added that women who attend for discussions about bilateral mastectomies to reduce risk and risk assessment still mention how Angelina Jolie has affected their attendance and still speak about how her speaking publically had an impact.

Genesis Breast Cancer Prevention chairman Lester Barr said that these findings are especially intriguing as they prove that women referred for genetic testing shortly after Angelina’s story became public proceeded to undergo preventative mastectomies.

He said this means Angelina’s announcement encouraged women at risk to learn more regarding the procedure as well as look into the steps that can be taken to reduce the risk.

Professor of clinical genetics at Genesis Breast Cancer Prevention, Gareth Evans, said the increase in mastectomies began about nine months following Angelina’s announcement.

Chief executive of Breast Cancer Care, Samia al Qadhi, said genetic clinics around the UK have also seen more referrals and Angelina’s courage has highlighted the importance of breast cancer and family history.