Angelina Jolie has raised awareness with her decision to do mastectomy and later by deciding to remove her ovaries as well as fallopian tubes, as a preventive measure against cancer. The step is greatly appreciated by doctors as it will reduce the risk of ovarian cancer to a great extent.
Jolie has a history of cancer in her family. Her mother Marcheline Bertrand and her grand mother had ovarian cancer, while her aunt breathed her last of breast cancer. A blood test on Angelina Jolie showed early signs of cancer, which led her to do the preventive surgeries.
The Canadian Cancer Society opines that BRCA mutations are responsible for 4 to 11% of ovarian cancers and 5% of breast cancers. An average woman carries the chances of breast cancer of about 12% in her lifetime. The BRCA mutations raise the risk five times.
Though the chance of ovarian cancer in a lifetime is 1%, women who has undergone BRCA 1 mutation or BRCA 2 mutation the risk is 60 %. Moreover, the ovarian cancer cannot be diagnosed unless it reaches a late stage, decreasing the chances of survival.
Ovary removal is considered to have great benefits according to professionals like Kelly Metcalfe. She works as a nursing professor in University of Toronto and also as adjunct scientist in Women’s College Hospital. She advocates that women who have undergone BRCA 1 mutation or BRCA 2 mutation should give thought to removal of their ovaries.
The apt time for removal is between the ages of 35 to 40; that is after child bearing. It is the best option according to Kelly Metcalfe, for reducing the chances of ovarian cancer.
When Angelina Jolie decided to undergo double mastectomy as prevention, there was a high raise in women opting for genetic testing. The phenomenon was named “Angelina effect.” Canadian research opines Angelina heightened awareness as well as referral amidst women who would not have considered taking a test till then.
The signs of ovarian cancer are vague. They appear in the form of urinary changes or bloating. According to Ovarian Cancer Canada, women should not delay in visiting a doctor if any of the signs are found or persist. Ovarian cancer, in its most deadly form appears in the fallopian tubes. Birth control pills and frequent check ups also are advised to detect ovarian cancer, though; unfortunately it can develop without any prominent signs. Even Trans-vaginal ultrasounds fail to detect ovarian cancer that is early.
There are side effects like hot flushes, effects on heart function, bones, cognitive function and sexual dysfunction. Women who underwent such surgeries are observed and monitored constantly to learn more about side effects and long term effects.