May 15, 2013

By Jane Brown

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Angelina Jolie’s decision to have a preventative double mastectomy is prompting discussion among cancer experts and women who are at high risk of developing breast cancer.  Doctor Elisa Port is the chief of breast surgery at Mt. Sinai Medical Center in New York.  She says public awareness has now been raised on the options for breast surgery and reconstruction.  “What it is, is a testimonial to how far we’ve come also with reconstruction options, that a woman can do this and still know that she is going to look and feel beautiful.”

The Oscar winning Angelina Jolie says she decided to have her breasts removed when she found she had tested positive for a specific gene that puts women at a higher risk of breast and ovarian cancer. Doctor Port says very few women have this faulty BRCA 1 gene.  “These are very rare genes, and I think it’s important to make the distinction that most breast cancer is not gene associated and even women who have a history of breast cancer, most do not have this gene.”

Some medical experts note that hereditary cases of breast cancer account for only about five per cent to seven per cent of all cases diagnosed each year.

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