Actress Angelina Jolie announced to the world that she has undergone a double mastectomy to avoid the threat of breast cancer.
Her announcement instantly raised awareness of this extreme preventative medical procedure.
Jolie, 37, made the decision after genetic testing found she had an 87 percent chance of developing breast cancer in her lifetime. Her mother was 56 when she died from breast cancer.
Dr. Helen Krontiras is the co-director of the UAB Breast Health Center. She says Jolie carries a mutation of the BRCA-1 gene, which is quite rare.
"Women who are diagnosed with one of these genetic mutations BRCA-1 or BRCA-2 have such an increased risk for developing breast cancer that this is one of the options," Krontiras explained.
She says those options include monitoring, regular mammograms, taking a chemo prevention pill everyday and finally, a double mastectomy.
She also cautions that this kind of surgery carries a number of unpleasant side effects. It can cause numbness in the breast, bleeding and infection..
"I think the good thing is it gets people talking, and it gets people in their own family units to talk about their family history," Dr. Krontiras said.
Copyright 2013 WBRC. All rights reserved.
1720 Valley View Drive