Cancer Risk Is Small but Not Zero
She wrote that she wanted other women with BRCA mutations to know that surgeries like the ones she had are not their only options. It’s possible to lower your risk of cancer with medication, or to keep an eye out for early signs of cancer with frequent testing, a strategy called watchful waiting.
And she stressed that surgery is not a perfect solution.
“It is not possible to remove all risk, and the fact is I remain prone to cancer,” Jolie wrote.
In rare cases, even when the ovaries are removed, women can get cancer in the abdominal wall that acts just like ovarian cancer, Daly said.
For that reason, patients like Jolie continued to be followed with annual blood tests.
Jolie said she will continue to take steps to strengthen her health. But she feels good about the choices she’s made. “I know my children will never have to say, ‘Mom died of ovarian cancer,’” she wrote.
She said she wants other women at risk to know they have options to protect their health.
Measuring Jolie’s Influence
Studies have shown that in the 6 months after Jolie first disclosed her genetic risk and decision to remove both her breasts, the number of women who got tested for BRCA mutations doubled.
“We saw a real spike in interest” in the months after her original article, Daly said.
Daly said she thinks there were many women out there who knew they were at higher risk because of a family history but who also felt unsure of what to do about it.
“I think some of these women who don’t have cancer wonder, ‘Is this what I should really be doing? It’s drastic. My body will never be the same. Am I overreacting?’ And the fact that she came out and told their story made them realize this is not abnormal. This is OK for me to be thinking about,” Daly said.