After rushing the kids to their respective school busses, I took a moment’s break by sipping some piping hot cardamom tea. I saw the beautiful face of Angelina Jolie on the front page of Tabloid. Hoping to hear some nice gossip about her wedding, I was stunned to read that she underwent double mastectomy. But I bet that courageous decision of hers brought her closer to Brad Pitt culminating into beautiful decision of stepping before the altar together as man and wife.
Now what is mastectomy? It is surgically removing one or both breasts either partially or completely. In Angelina’s case it was a prophylactic surgery. Sounds Greek and Latin? Prophylactic surgery is a procedure whose main aim is to prevent rather than treat or cure a disease. By undergoing this surgery her chances of getting breast cancer has reduced to 90%.
It seems that she has inherited the BRCA mutated gene. She lost her mother to ovarian cancer way back in 2007. This BRCA gene has two variations BRCA 1 and BRCA 2. They belong to a class of genes known as tumor suppressors. Mutations of these genes have been linked to hereditary breast and ovarian cancers. A woman enters a high risk category if she has inherited the mutated form of BRCA gene.
Doctors are quick to point out those hereditary cases for women account only to 5-7% of all breast cancer cases. The connections made to BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 is even lower in number. According to the National Cancer Institute’s website prophylactic surgery involves removal of much of the at risk tissue such as the healthy breasts or removal of healthy fallopian tubes and ovaries. Not all at risk tissue can be removed by this procedure and it does not guarantee a 100% cure rate. A person might develop cancer even after undergoing these surgeries. But the good news is that the chances of getting cancer will be reduced to 90% as in Angelina’s case.
The other way to approach this Herculean problem is to go for screening every year. In this way cancer screening helps one to detect the problem earlier and receive quick medical assistance. Talking about breast reconstruction surgery, it is usually done by a plastic surgeon to rebuild the breast mound as it was before.
Angelina has made a wonderful decision by boldly sharing her ordeal with other women. This has thrown a lot of light on this delicate subject of breast cancer. After hearing her story many will become aware of the actual situation associated with breast cancer. I wish her a blissfully wedded life for years to come.
Written By: Swarnam John