'Angelina Jolie Effect' Prompted More Testing for Breast Cancer Genes: Study – WebMD http://t.co/tV6bF2ScI0
— WebMD (@WebMD) September 4, 2014
Angelina raised awareness of BRCA testing http://t.co/vcN4wYwjIE But more efforts needed to increase understanding http://t.co/3fVsEr7PIF …
— Dr. Muin Khoury (@DrKhouryCDC) September 4, 2014
Just another way Angelina Jolie is helping women everywhere: http://t.co/VO2Zbyf0R4
— ELLE Magazine (US) (@ELLEmagazine) September 4, 2014
First, the good news: Angelina Jolie's highly publicized double mastectomy, which she underwent after learning she carries the risky BRCA1 gene, has pushed droves of women to get tested for the mutation, according to a new study. "The Angelina effect seemed to increase the awareness and the referral for women who were truly at high risk for hereditary breast cancer," Andrea Eisen, head of the Familial Cancer Program at Sunnybrook Health Science Centre in Toronto, said last week—and obviously, that's great.
The bad news? According to another, just released study, women with breast cancer who think they can outwit the disease by getting a double mastectomy, Angelina-style, are only giving themselves false confidence. Angelina's double mastectomy was preventative, but when double mastectomies are done as a treatment method on women who already have tumors, they're no more effective at increasing breast cancer survival rates than simply removing a tumor and leaving the rest of the breasts intact.
It's ho-hum, Debbie Downer news, but something that's important to know, since double mastectomies are complicated procedures, and shouldn't be executed just because the patient thinks it's more helpful for her survival rate. But, then again, even if this follow-up study doesn't bring the most hopeful news, isn't any conversation about breast cancer helpful by raising awareness? (I certainly think Angelina, who wrote that brilliant New York Times piece, would agree.)