Well surely Angelina Jolie has got another added reason to stand apart from the crowd in Cannes film festival not because of her habit of adopting children across the globe but definitely for cherishing womanhood through double mastectomy.
A growing awareness of breast cancer survivor ship makes undergoing mastectomy not as foreign or frightening as perhaps it once was. An online search shows a seemingly limitless number of breast cancer support groups, with a growing collection dedicated to women considering preventive surgery.
Researchers are paying close attention to the increasing rate of double mastectomies in the United States.
The number of women with early stage breast cancer who went on to remove both breasts (even though only one breast had cancer) increased by more than 150% between 1998 and 2003.Experts say several intersecting factors could be fueling this trend.The initiative is not recent, actress Kathy Bates is recovering from double mastectomy.
Since testing became available in 1996, nearly 1 million people have been screened for BRAC1 and BRAC2, the genetic mutations associated with increasing a woman’s lifetime risk of developing breast cancer as much as 87%, according to Myriad Genetics, the diagnostic company that helped isolate the two genes and later developed a test to detect them.
In a global study conducted by Dr. Steven Narod, senior scientist at Women’s College Research Institute in Toronto, the United States had the highest rate of prophylactic mastectomy in BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutation carriers. The U.S. rate was 36.3%, far outpacing the number of preventive surgeries performed by the majority of other countries Narod studied, including France and Canada.
One reason for the spike may be that American women fear cancer more than women in other regions. About 70% of women in the United States who have both breasts removed after a cancer diagnosis don’t have a proven medical reason for undergoing the procedure, according to a 2012 study conducted by the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Centre.
However, a double mastectomy may make sense for women with a strong family history of breast or ovarian cancer, or for women who’ve tested positive for genetic mutations in the BRCA genes.
Women today have access to breast reconstruction options that were unavailable to their mothers and grandmothers.
Doctors are increasingly avoiding the use of implants by taking fat from a patient’s stomach, upper back, buttock or thigh to construct and shape new breasts. If a woman decides to go with implants, they’ve been made safer and more comfortable, and surgeons increasingly offer immediate implant reconstruction instead of the traditional multistep process that took months of additional doctor visits.
It’s hard to believe that implants have only been widely available since the 1970s. Before then, and it’s really not that long ago, women were subjected to wearing falsies. The options available today have dramatically improved the way a woman looks after surgery. And with even better microsurgery options on the way, even higher numbers of women are choosing mastectomy.
One such technique, if put into commercial practice, may raise ethical red flags. Doctors are working on a new procedure that would one day make it possible for individuals to donate their excess fat similar to the way blood is donated today so women seeking a more natural breast reconstruction could take advantage of somebody else’s flesh.
‘Pink ribbon’ culture is slowly becoming congruent to American culture which requires quick solution and expects answer to every problem.
The initiative taken by Anjellina Jolie has definitely managed to spark inquisitiveness amongst public across the globe in such a manner surgeons are marketing themselves directly to information-hungry patients online. Doctors are holding Twitter chats and creating websites to promote their services. At the Stanford University School of Medicine, a breast surgeon has even launched an online guide to help women decide if preventive surgery is right for them.
Angelina Jolie is pictured left with mother Marcheline Bertrand at Los Angeles airport in 1998, nine years before Ms Bertrand died of ovarian cancer, and right, with father Jon Voight in 2001
The excerpts of a recent chat with Angelina in one of the eminent newspapers “On April 27, I finished the three months of medical procedures that the mastectomies involved. During that time I have been able to keep this private and to carry on with my work.’
The star’s surgery was successful and doctors say Angelina’s chances of developing breast cancer have now lowered to less than 5 per cent.
‘I wanted to write this to tell other women that the decision to have a mastectomy was not easy,’ she wrote. ‘But it is one I am very happy that I made.
‘My chances of developing breast cancer have dropped from 87 per cent to under 5 per cent. I can tell my children that they don’t need to fear they will lose me to breast cancer. It is reassuring that they see nothing that makes them uncomfortable. They can see my small scars and that’s it. Everything else is just Mommy, the same as she always was. And they know that I love them and will do anything to be with them as long as I can.”
Angelina praised the support her fiancé Brad Pitt and their children, Maddox, 11, Pax, nine, Zahara, eight, Shiloh, six, and four-year-old twins Knox and Vivienne, gave her during treatment.
On humanitarian grounds Angelina, pictured while still undergoing treatment on March 26, travelled to the Republic of Congo with William Hague to raise awareness of rape in war zones.After her trip to Africa, Angelina rejoined William Hague at the G8 summit on at Lancaster House on April 11. She said that the decision to undergo major surgery has empowered her and that it has in no way diminished her femininity. Angelina, pictured at the G8 summit, said she wants to encourage every woman, especially if they have a family history of breast or ovarian cancer, to seek out the information and medical help they might need
Angelina assured that having the double mastectomy hasn’t changed the way she feels about herself and her womanliness, and added that results of reconstructive surgery ‘can be beautiful’.
The brave star hopes that she can encourage other women to be informed and consider their options.
Cancer is still a word that strikes fear into people’s hearts, producing a deep sense of powerlessness.
But today it is possible to find out through a blood test whether you are highly susceptible to breast and ovarian cancer, and then take action.