Angelina Jolie mastectomy has some women considering same - WSMV Channel 4

Angelina Jolie mastectomy has some women considering same

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Actress Angelina Jolie's announcement that she had both breasts removed in an effort to reduce her risk of breast cancer has many women wondering if they should do the same.

Jolie underwent testing that indicated she had an 87 percent chance of developing breast cancer, so the Oscar-winning actress and partner to Brad Pitt decided to undergo a double mastectomy.

"I was glad that, someone that well known, it's come out that she went ahead and had that done," said breast cancer survivor Kelly Weiland.

Weiland said she found a lump in one of her breasts when she was just 33 years old. With two children under the age of three, she said she was prepared to do whatever it took to live.

"For me, it was easy, because it was a life or death decision," she said.

Weiland's mother later developed breast cancer as well, so her sister then decided to take the same precautionary steps Jolie wrote about in a New York Times op-ed.

"My sister went ahead and took those steps, knowing that her sister and mother both had breast cancer," Weiland said.

The concern surrounds the "faulty" BRCA1 gene that some women carry, and it can be discovered through genetic testing.

About 60 percent of the women who carry the BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation will develop breast or ovarian cancer, so having the mutation is not necessarily a cancer predictor.

"The BRCA gene mutation has been on the radar for at least 10 years, but patients are beginning to be knowledgeable about it, talk about it and have questions for their doctors about their risk," said Tracy Rode, with PearlPoint Cancer Support.

The genetic test runs about $500, which is money well spent when considering the possibilities.

Ingrid Meszoely, a surgeon at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, has helped many women gather the information needed to make this life-altering decision.

"We can actually put your information into what we call models, and we can actually - they'll spit out a number that tells you, 'This is your risk of carrying a mutation,'" Meszoely said.

Meszoely said some women don't even need to get tested, but they should at least ask about it.

"Not everyone is a candidate for having a test, but a substantial number of people are candidates and should at least talk to a physician who is versed in this area or talk to a genetic counselor," Meszoely said.

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