Hollywood actress Angelina Jolie has undergone a double mastectomy to reduce her chances of getting breast cancer.
The 37-year-old actress and mother of six explained her reasons for having the surgery to the New York Times.
She said her doctors estimated that she had an 87% risk of breast cancer and a 50% risk of ovarian cancer. "I decided to be proactive and to minimise the risk as much I could," she stated.
Her partner, Brad Pitt, praised her choice and that of women in a similar position as "absolutely heroic". As result of her surgery Ms Jolie has reduced her risk of developing breast cancer from 85% to just 5%. She wanted to raise awareness about the risks of breast cancer and the possibility for those at particularly high risk to be proactive and help protect themselves. She explained that the procedure had advanced considerably and when followed by reconstruction of the breasts with implants, 'the results can be beautiful'.
About one in five women diagnosed with breast cancer will have a significant family history of the disease
Having close family members like a mother or sister with breast cancer raises a woman's own risk of the disease
Genes such as BRCA1 and BRCA2 are strongly linked with breast cancer and can be detected with genetic tests
Fewer than 1% of women are at high risk of developing breast cancer
Another 2% of women deemed to be at moderate risk might also benefit from taking preventive breast cancer drugs for five years, say experts
In the UK the NHS offers free testing to anyone deemed to be at high risk of developing the disease. Southdowns Private Healthcare offers complete BRCA1/BRCA2 Full screens to all women. For more information contact Southdowns on 01243 388712