Angelina Jolie removed her ovaries and fallopian tubes a week ago, but it was a decision that was strategized over two years ago.
Dr. Kristin Funk, a surgical oncologist at the Pink Lotus Breast Center, performed Angelina Jolie's double mastectomy in 2013 and she provided insight into the actress' latest operation, a laparoscopic bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy.
While she did not perform the most recent operation, Dr. Funk revealed that she and Jolie had conversations about how to best determine whether surgery was the right avenue to take. "We had strategized about a way to manage the ovaries with surveillance until she felt it was appropriate in her life to remove them," she tells ET.
The 39-year-old Jolie revealed her decision-making process in a candid op-ed in the New York Times published Tuesday. "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," she wrote.
The actress is now in menopause, and she admitted that it "is not easy to make these decisions. But it is possible to take control and tackle head-on any health issue. You can seek advice, learn about the options and make choices that are right for you. Knowledge is power."
Reactions to Jolie's news were mixed as some commented that they wanted to take measures for preventative care while others noted that they have further anxiety about their family histories.
The majority of people who undergo genetic testing have insurance, but if you want a full test, it can run up to $4,500.
"About 6% of the population is appropriate for genetic testing," Dr. Funk stated. "That means that they meet the criteria of red flags."
According to Dr. Funk "about 7% of breast cancer and 14% of ovarian cancer has a direct connection to these bracket gene mutations. If anything, Angelina is raising awareness to the existence of these cancers."
One celebrity has already found comfort in Jolie's story. Kelly Osbourne revealed to ET after The Talk's Tuesday taping that she too has a BRCA1 gene.
"I think more celebrities and well known women might find the coming out less daunting not that she has taken away the initial shock and stigma with this revelation." Dr. Funk added. "I think you'll find more celebrities coming out about it. Hopefully they'll be motivated to take away the stigma, fear and lack of education."
Although Jolie took this preventative measure, there's still a 1-2% residual risk in the pelvis, Dr. Funk said.
Like Jolie, she also encouraged people who have a gene mutation to talk to a professional who specializes in the area to discuss their options. "If you're past child-bearing and desire no more children like Angie did, there's no reason to keep your ovaries," she explained.
After the procedure, Jolie wrote that she felt "feminine and grounded" in her choices to undergo surgery.
"Every woman undergoing these dramatic and irreversible procedures will contemplate what it means for her femininity, sexuality and sense of confidence," Dr. Funk said.
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