Jolie’s essay received hundreds of comments in a short time on the New York Times’s web site. Many were from women who expressed their gratitude.
“I had the BRCA test done after reading about Angelina’s double mastectomy,” wrote a woman commenting as Joan Hobeck of Myrtle Beach, SC. “... Thank God I came back negative; however, the fear is still there. My mother died of ovarian cancer, as well as two of my Aunts, cousin with breast [cancer] and the list goes on. I am grateful for Angelina and her willingness to share her journey with us.”
Mitchell Maiman, MD, chairman of obstetrics and gynecology at Staten Island University Hospital in Staten Island, NY, agreed with that sentiment.
“I think it’s good. She’s very thorough when she discusses this,” Maiman said. “She’s a very intelligent woman and she gets all the science. She stimulates women to find out about their own risk and act on it.”
Jolie’s Advice Comes With Caveats
Daly said there were only two points in the article that she’d like to clarify.
The first is Jolie’s decision to start hormone replacement therapy.
“We don’t really know how safe it is for someone - even though they-ve had [their breasts removed] - to be on hormones for a prolonged period of time.”
Daly said studies suggest it might be safe for a short period of time, perhaps 3 to 5 years, but that Jolie still has a 10% risk of getting breast cancer.
“We worry about long-term hormone replacement therapy in any woman,” Daly said.
Jolie also mentioned that it might be possible for some women in the same situation to just remove their fallopian tubes but leave their ovaries to protect their fertility. Daly said most experts say more research is needed on that strategy.
“That’s an idea right now. That’s not a proven preventive option,” she said. “We don’t know how much risk protection just taking the fallopian tube out confers. It’s typically not considered a standard option.”
By Brenda Goodman, MA