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Cancer experts laud Angelina Jolie's decision to remove ovaries

Agencies | Updated: 2015-03-25 09:03

Cancer experts laud Angelina Jolie's decision to remove ovaries

"Unbroken" director Angelina Jolie arrives at the 20th Annual Critics' Choice Movie Awards in Los Angeles, California January 15, 2015. [Photo/Agencies]

Two years after a double mastectomy, actress Angelina Jolie has had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to avoid the risk of ovarian cancer, a move cancer experts described as courageous and influential.

The movie director and philanthropist, who is the wife of actor Brad Pitt and the mother of six children, said in an op-ed column in the New York Times on March 24 that she had the surgery last week after blood tests showed what could have been early signs of the disease.

Jolie, 39, carries a mutation in the BRCA1 gene that increases her risk for breast and ovarian cancer. Her mother died of ovarian cancer at the age of 56.

Cancer specialists praised the Hollywood star's second public revelation for increasing awareness about genetic testing and prophylactic surgery to reduce the risk of breast and ovarian cancer.

"My hat is off to her," said Dr. Robert DeBernardo, a gynecologic oncologist at the Cleveland Clinic's Ob/Gyn & Women's Health Institute. "She is doing a lot of good for women worldwide by raising awareness of BRCA testing and options women have."

"It was incredibly courageous," said Dr. Marleen Meyers, an assistant professor of medicine at NYU Langone's Laura and Isaac Perlmutter Cancer Center.

Jolie said she went public with her decision so women would know about options available to them.

"I went through what I imagine thousands of other women have felt," Jolie wrote. "I told myself to stay calm, to be strong, and that I had no reason to think I wouldn't live to see my children grow up and to meet my grandchildren."

The surgery showed no signs of cancer, she said, but it triggered early menopause, and she will not be able to have more children.

"I feel feminine, and grounded in the choices I am making for myself and my family," said Jolie, who travels the globe as a United Nations ambassador for refugees. "I know my children will never have to say, 'Mom died of ovarian cancer.'"

The Academy Award winning actress, who most recently directed the World War Two drama "Unbroken," said she had a progesterone IUD inserted in her uterus to help maintain hormonal balance and help prevent uterine cancer.

Research showed that her 2013 decision to have a double mastectomy to cut her risk of breast cancer increased demand for genetic testing in what was dubbed the "Angelina Effect."

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