Have you heard of the "Angelina Jolie Surgery"? Chances are that you have if you've read the news sometime in the last two years! The Hollywood star known for her movie roles and timeless beauty underwent a genetic test that confirmed a BRCA1 mutation, which gave her high odds that she would develop breast cancer at some point in her life.
Jolie said in a New York Times article she wrote, "Only a fraction of breast cancers result from an inherited gene mutation. Those with a defect in BRCA1 have a 65% risk of getting it, on average."
BRCA Gene Mutations Commonly Associated with Breast Cancer
BRCA genes (both BRCA1 and BRCA2) are an indicator showing certain mutations that are commonly associated with either breast or ovarian cancer. BRCA1 mutations can produce a lifetime risk of breast cancer ranging from 45% to 87% and of ovarian cancer ranging from 31% to 63%. By any stretch of the imagination, these are high risks of potentially-deadly cancers.
Angelina Jolie went public with her decision to undergo a nipple-sparing prophylactic mastectomy and reconstruction. Her procedure involved removing all breast tissue and reconstruction with silicone implants. A bilateral prophylactic mastectomy reduces the risk of breast cancer in women with high risk BRCA1 mutations by at least 90%.
Dr. Jensen Offers Patients Risk Reduction Plastic Surgery
With the advances in medical research, specifically breast cancer research, Dr. Jensen is able to offer his patients risk reduction surgery and reconstruction. In many patients the surgical incision made is not much bigger than an incision used to do a cosmetic breast augmentation.
Mother/Daughter Duo Shares Their Story of risk Reducing Mastectomy Reconstruction
Meet this mother/daughter trio, prophylactic mastectomy reconstruction patients of Dr. Jensen. With their permission we share their story. Because of a strong family history of breast cancer the Mom decided to undergo BRCA testing so her family could make more informed decisions about their own healthcare. This is what she has to say about it, "After my positive BRCA test, surgery was not even a question. To undergo a complete mastectomy would greatly reduce the chances of getting breast cancer. My kids had the same genetic mutation and I needed to lead the charge, as they were both watching me. BRCA can scar you both physically and mentally, however Dr. Jensen was very reassuring. He answered all my prayers. I'm so grateful for modern technology, as it has given me the opportunity to do everything we can to prevent breast cancer."
Her two daughters decided to undergo prophylactic mastectomies with reconstruction as well. One daughter said, "After watching my mom and then my sister go through the mastectomy process I didn't feel like I had anything to worry about. It wasn't until I set the date of the procedure that all the questions, doubt and horror stories came to mind. 'Am I too young for this?' was the biggest question I asked myself. Then I thought, 'Cancer probably doesn't think I'm too young.' That was my answer. The next question I thought a lot about was, 'I'm not married yet or have kids, so am I going to miss out on anything?'. The answer was, 'Is it worth possibly getting cancer?'. It's not. I plan to live a long, happy and healthy life. This surgery helped me get there."
The other daughter said, "I am 25 years old, I'm a mom of two beautiful baby boys, and I tested positive for BRCA1. A mastectomy just makes sense, you would think. Unfortunately feelings and logic do not always line up. I changed my mind about 10 times a day, every day, until my surgery date. When my Aunt died of breast cancer just 1 month after my first surgery I have never regretted my decision. Having my sister and my mother going through the same things with me was amazing, empowering and brought us closer than ever. We all feel so blessed."
While Angelina Jolie may be the new poster woman for BRCA testing and prophylactic mastectomies with reconstruction, Dr. Jensen's office has seen a lot of brave women battle the same decisions and questions in regard to their health. These women could also be the poster faces of undergoing this procedure and doing everything they can to lower their risk of getting breast cancer.
In a recent medical study it was noted that women that had undergone prophylactic mastectomies with reconstruction said they wish they had known it was less traumatic and less painful than they had anticipated. Prophylactic mastectomies may not be for everyone. There are several ways to reduce your risks of developing breast cancer. Proper screening and early detection are key elements to improved survival rates.