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Angelina Jolie Writes Surgery Diaries About Having Her Ovaries And Fallopian Tubes Removed

We’ve known for years that Angelina Jolie was a gutsy woman but we’ve gained a new level of respect for her after reading her surgery diaries, where she reveals her recent decision to have her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed.

In an essay for the New York Times Angelina Jolie describes her decision:

Two years ago I wrote about my choice to have a preventive double mastectomy. A simple blood test had revealed that I carried a mutation in the BRCA1 gene. It gave me an estimated 87 percent risk of breast cancer and a 50 percent risk of ovarian cancer. I lost my mother, grandmother and aunt to cancer.

Because of her gene mutation Jolie had already planned to have her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed, but since the surgery would put her into forced menopause Jolie had put off the second surgery for awhile, but a cancer scare took the matter out of her hands.

Two weeks ago I got a call from my doctor with blood-test results. “Your CA-125 is normal,” he said. I breathed a sigh of relief. That test measures the amount of the protein CA-125 in the blood, and is used to monitor ovarian cancer. I have it every year because of my family history.

But that wasn’t all. He went on. “There are a number of inflammatory markers that are elevated, and taken together they could be a sign of early cancer.” I took a pause. “CA-125 has a 50 to 75 percent chance of missing ovarian cancer at early stages,” he said. He wanted me to see the surgeon immediately to check my ovaries.

Jolie describes flying to Paris to meet with the same doctor who treated her mother. Her husband Brad Pitt, also flew to France to be with her. She describes the harrowing 5-day wait for her test results and ultimately the decision to move forward with the procedure:

In my case, the Eastern and Western doctors I met agreed that surgery to remove my tubes and ovaries was the best option, because on top of the BRCA gene, three women in my family have died from cancer. My doctors indicated I should have preventive surgery about a decade before the earliest onset of cancer in my female relatives. My mother’s ovarian cancer was diagnosed when she was 49. I’m 39.

Last week, I had the procedure: a laparoscopic bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy. There was a small benign tumor on one ovary, but no signs of cancer in any of the tissues.

It is not possible to remove all risk, and the fact is I remain prone to cancer. I will look for natural ways to strengthen my immune system. I feel feminine, and grounded in the choices I am making for myself and my family. I know my children will never have to say, “Mom died of ovarian cancer.”

Jolie also concedes that her decision would not be an easy one for any woman to make, particularly one who had not yet given birth:

I feel deeply for women for whom this moment comes very early in life, before they have had their children. Their situation is far harder than mine. I inquired and found out that there are options for women to remove their fallopian tubes but keep their ovaries, and so retain the ability to bear children and not go into menopause. I hope they can be aware of that.

Do you think you could make the same decision as Angelina.



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