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Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Beware of Organ Removal for "Cancer Prevention": Jolie's Precautionary Tale

Sayer Ji
Green Med Info

Angelina Jolie has just announced she has removed her ovaries and fallopian tubes to "prevent cancer," following her decision last year to remove her breasts for the same reason. Is this medically justified, sane behavior? 

With Angelina Jolie's recent announcement that she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed because of both a BRCA 'gene defect' and a history of breast and ovarian cancer in her family, the idea that genes play a dominant role in determining biological destiny and cancer risk is proliferating in the mainstream media and popular consciousness uncontrollably like a cancer.

Back in 2014, in a New York Times Op-Ed titled, "My Medical Choice," Angelina Jolie explained why she chose to have a double mastectomy, recounting what her doctors told her was the extreme health risk associated with her BRCA1 'gene mutation':
"My doctors estimated that I had an 87 percent risk of breast cancer and a 50 percent risk of ovarian cancer, although the risk is different in the case of each." 
At first glance, these estimates are frightening. Who, given such a bleak prognosis, wouldn't also feel compelled towards aggressive intervention when doing nothing (watchful waiting) would result in a 50% increased risk of developing the most lethal gynecological cancer known to exist. [1]

But where do these numbers come from? How did her caretakers arrive with any certainty at this figure?

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