Angelina Jolie went public with her decision to have a double mastectomy to encourage other women to be proactive about breast cancer. Jolie has a genetic defect that doctors call the Berca Gene.
Women with this BRCA gene that is passed on by the mother or father, have an 87 percent chance of getting breast cancer and a 50 percent chance of getting ovarian cancer. MU Health Care Cancer Surgeon Dr. Paul Dale has a lot of patients with this genetic defect and they are aware of the increased risk of cancer.
Dale said, â??Most of them decide to do the same thing that she did. They are very concerned about this lifetime risk, but every woman needs to sit down and talk to her doctor.â??
Dale said most women have babies and plan their families before having preventive surgery. Women like Angelina Jolie are still not safe from getting breast cancer. Even with this radical surgery, women still have a 5 percent chance of getting the disease.
Dale said, â??Sometimes those cancers arenâ??t found really early. Then, we find it really late. Unfortunately, you went from a situation where you may have been cured of ever getting cancer because you removed your breasts to having a cancer that is going to kill you.â??
Dale said every woman has to make her own decision that makes the most sense to them.
National Cancer Institute administrators said the cost of a double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery varies with each patient. They recommend that women discuss the fees with their doctors and insurance companies before making any final decisions.