CHICAGO (CBS) — Two years ago, actress Angelina Jolie revealed she had undergone a double mastectomy in light of her high risk for breast cancer. On Tuesday, Jolie announced she recently had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed as well.
CBS 2’s Derrick Blakley reports that Jolie is hardly alone.
Last march, Lincoln Park’s Erin Kerewich, mother of two, felt a lump in her breast. It wasn’t cancer. But shortly after, she got news that gave her a lump in her throat.
“Two weeks after that, I learned that I have the BRCA1 mutation,” said Kerewich.
It’s the same mutation that Angelina Jolie carries, putting each of them at high risk for breast and ovarian cancer.
“What we deal with when you carry this gene is about a 70 to 80 percent chance of developing breast cancer in your lifetime and about a 40 to 60 percent chance of developing ovarian cancer in your lifetime,” said Dr. R.K. Potkul of Loyola Medical Center.
As a preventative measure, Jolie had a double mastectomy and had her ovaries removed. So did Kerewich.
“It’s been a full year of recovery and surgery and it’s been a really taxing and tolling time on my family,” she said.
Breast and ovarian cancers often run in families. Jolie lost her mother, grandmother, and aunt to cancer. Kerewich lost her mother to ovarian cancer, diagnosed at 43 and gone by 49.
“It was stage 4,” she said. “She didn’t know she even had it.”
Experts say there’s still no good method to screen for ovarian cancer, which can make removal the best option.
“It really has been shown in multiple studies that we reduce the risk of ovarian cancer or tubal cancer if we do have the prophylactic surgery,” said Dr. Potkul.
Kerewich and her husband were thinking of having a third child. That dream is over. But she’s relieved at her decision.
“I just wasn’t willing to take that risk,” she said.
Angelia Jolie shared her revelations in The New York Times today, in an Op-Ed called “Diary of a Surgery.”
Jolie states she is not suggesting all women who carry the BRCA gene take the steps she did. But she does want women to be better informed.