Angelina Jolie describes 'sci-fi' surgery

2013-05-14 10:25
Los Angeles — Angelina Jolie has revealed details of her double mastectomy surgery, saying it felt "like a scene out of a science-fiction film".

The Oscar-winning actress and partner to Brad Pitt made the announcement that she has had a preventive double mastectomy in the form of an op-ed she authored for Tuesday's New York Times under the headline, "My Medical Choice."

She writes that between early February and late April she completed three months of surgical procedures to remove both breasts.

"My own process began on Feb 2 with a procedure known as a 'nipple delay,'" she writes, "which rules out disease in the breast ducts behind the nipple and draws extra blood flow to the area."

She then describes the major surgery two weeks later where breast tissue was removed, saying it felt "like a scene out of a science-fiction film," then writes that nine weeks later she had a third surgery to reconstruct the breasts and receive implants."

'I do not feel any less of a woman'

Many women have chosen preventive mastectomy since genetic screening for breast cancer was developed, but the move and public announcement is unprecedented from a star so young and widely known as Jolie.

She briefly addresses the effects of the surgery on the idealised sexuality and iconic womanhood that have fuelled her fame.

"I do not feel any less of a woman," Jolie writes. "I feel empowered that I made a strong choice that in no way diminishes my femininity."

She also wrote that Brad Pitt, her partner of eight years, was at the Pink Lotus Breast Centre in Southern California for "every minute of the surgeries".

Hopes of helping other women

Jolie, 37, writes that she made the choice with thoughts of her six children after watching her own mother die too young from breast cancer.

"My mother fought cancer for almost a decade and died at 56," Jolie writes. "She held out long enough to meet the first of her grandchildren and to hold them in her arms. But my other children will never have the chance to know her and experience how loving and gracious she was."

She writes that "They have asked if the same could happen to me."

Jolie said that after genetic testing she learned she carries the "faulty" BRCA1 gene and had an 87% chance of getting the disease herself.

She said she has kept the process private so far, but wrote about it with hopes of helping other women.

"I wanted to write this to tell other women that the decision to have a mastectomy was not easy. But it is one I am very happy that I made," Jolie writes. "My chances of developing breast cancer have dropped from 87% to under 5%. I can tell my children that they don't need to fear they will lose me to breast cancer."

Jolie, daughter of Hollywood luminary Jon Voight, has appeared in dozens of films including 2010's The Tourist and Salt, the Tomb Raider films, and 1999's Girl, Interrupted, for which she won an Academy Award.

But she has appeared more often in the news in recent years for her power coupling with Pitt and her charitable work with refugees as a United Nations ambassador.


  • Jessica Jane Nel - 2013-05-14 11:21

    Absolutely courageous! That she tells the public makes it even more so. I can't even imagine doing this for fear of losing my femininity (silly I know) but what Angelina has done is so inspiring. It lets women know that saving your life through a surgery like this is a very real and acceptable option. What a WOMAN!

      Giancarlo Coccia - 2013-05-14 12:43

      She is truly courageous for doing this... but sadly a double mastectomy is not an acceptable option in this day and age! Women with BRCA1 are still though good candidates for breast-concerving therapy. Women with the BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation should rather just be followed closely by enhanced breast cancer screenings so that the cancer can be detected as early as possible.

  • Karin Devereux Rackley - 2013-05-14 11:53

    Respect you you.....

  • Vennessa Scholtz - 2013-05-14 12:38

    please do a little research news24 especially an important subject like this. christina applegate was diagnosed with the same gene, underwent the elective surgery and was younger than Jolie at the time. but hats off to the women are brave to do it and then talk about it.

  • Theo Kruger - 2013-05-14 12:38

    Brave, brave, BRAVE woman! I have always been fond of Angie. What an inspiration. Tough decision, yes... But so very brave.

  • Mary Botha - 2013-05-14 13:52

    As presented by Dr. J. E Garber from Dana Farber Cancer Institute , Boston United States of America at 13th Breast Cancer International Conference in St. Gallen Switzerland, a patient with a strongly family history of breast cancer extensive surgery has not showing to have a major impact in the life expectancy.

  • Kathy Burger Hellyar - 2013-05-14 15:37

    What a brave lady.

  • Gail Hayes-Bean - 2013-05-14 17:01

    I take my hat off to her for having this done and talking about it regardless of what different cancer specialists may believe. The aspect which IS worrying is that it will not remove the threat of the ovarian cancer which may be less easily detected. In terms of narcissism Jim Gordon, the very fact that she gets a lot of attention does not mean she particularly desires it and if she is a narcissist as you suggest the last thing I would expect her to do would be to tell the world that her mammaries are fake. Prevention especially in someone so young and with 6 children is the smart thing but not easy by any means to do. Many medical insurance compqanies refused to cover treatment of women who carried this gene and where the cancer metastasized to organs like pancreas and liver which is a horrible way to die.

  • Adonis Gralak - 2013-05-15 12:11

    Kudos to those courageous women for bringing the BRCA1 genetic testing subject to light. Many lives will be saved because of this.

  • Adonis Gralak - 2013-05-15 12:11

    Kudos to those courageous women for bringing the BRCA1 genetic testing subject to light. Many lives will be saved because of this.

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