Reuters – Oscar-winning film star Angelina Jolie said she has had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to avoid the risk of ovarian cancer, the disease that killed her mother at the age of 56.
The announcement in a New York Times column printed on Tuesday came nearly two years after the rights campaigner and mother-of-six had a double mastectomy after hearing she had also inherited a high risk of breast cancer.
Jolie, 39, said she had gone public with her decision to tell other women about the options available to them.
“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 wrote.
The procedure had triggered menopause, she added. “I will not be able to have any more children, and I expect some physical changes. But I feel at ease with whatever will come, not because I am strong but because this is a part of life. It is nothing to be feared.”
Jolie, who also lost her aunt and grandmother to cancer, underwent the laparoscopic bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy last week after blood tests revealed possible indicators of early cancer.
She said doctors had told her she had a 50 percent risk of ovarian cancer due to an inherited genetic mutation. “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,” she said.
Husband Brad Pitt flew to her side from France hours after she told him about the test, she wrote. “The beautiful thing about such moments in life is that there is so much clarity. You know what you live for and what matters. It is polarizing, and it is peaceful,” she added.
Jolie, who won an Oscar as best supporting actress in the 1999 film “Girl, Interrupted” based her earlier decision to undergo a double mastectomy on news that she had an 87 percent risk ofbreast cancer.
Her announcement of that decision in a New York Times op-ed in May 2013 was widely lauded by celebrities, cancer survivors and medical professionals for its openness.
She wrote in Tuesday’s article, titled “Diary of a Surgery,” that no signs of cancer were discovered in removed tissue and that she had has a progesterone IUD inserted to help maintain hormonal balance and help prevent uterine cancer.
“It is not possible to remove all risk, and the fact is I remain prone to cancer,” she said.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says about 20,000 women get ovarian cancer and about 14,500 die from it every year in the United States.