More Jamaican women are opting to undergo a double mastectomy as a precautionary measure against breast cancer, a growing trend as a result of the ‘Angelina Jolie Effect’, one local expert has suggested.
A mastectomy is the surgical removal of the entire breast. Women at very high risk sometimes have a double mastectomy – removing both breasts.
Jolie, best known as an American actress but also a filmmaker and a humanitarian, underwent a preventive double mastectomy in February 2013 after learning she had an 87 per cent risk of developing breast cancer because of a defective BRCA1 gene.
Her announcement in May that year attracted widespread publicity and led to a global and long-lasting increase in BRCA gene testing, which a Time Magazine cover story dubbed ‘The Angelina Effect’.
“Since then, more women are becoming aware of breast cancer, more women are not ashamed to speak about their diagnosis, and more Jamaican women are actually opting for double mastectomy, whether it be that their risk was calculated to be high or that they had formal testing, and so on,” Dr Patrick Roberts, surgical oncologist and hepatobiliary surgeon at the University Hospital of the West Indies, told The Gleanerduring the annual breast cancer medical symposium at The Jamaica Pegasus in New Kingston yesterday.