World-famous actress Angelina Jolie has just recently undergone a mastectomy of both her breasts, after learning that she had an 87% risk of developing breast cancer at some point during her lifetime. One of the most interesting characteristics about this news is that Angelina Jolie had carried out a BRCA genetic testing procedure which is one of the most advanced and modern genetic testing procedures created.
What is BRCA genetic testing?
BRCA genetic testing consists of manipulating several DNA strains from a woman and conducting a number of genetic tests to confirm if there are any existent mutations in the genes BRCA 1 and BRCA 2, which are the harmful mutations that cause hereditary breast and ovarian cancer in a small minority of families worldwide.
Angelina Jolie’s family, from her mother’s side has suffered numerous cases of breast cancer within the past decade. Her mother, Marcheline Bertrand, was diagnosed with breast and ovarian cancer and passed away in January 2007 at the age of 56. Apart from Angelina Jolie’s mother, her maternal grandmother also had ovarian cancer and died at age of 45.
CNN Interview with Actress detailing her decision
In the coincidental chain of events, Jolie’s maternal aunt named Debbie Martin was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004 and died just recently on May 26, 2013.
Although it seems that Angelina Jolie may be highly prone to breast and ovarian cancer, the mastectomy she underwent has not removed her chances of getting breast cancer completely, but has reduced the probability by approximately 90%. The reason being is because she is only 37 and heading towards middle age, 45 onwards is when women are more likely to develop breast cancer. Jolie has commented that she plans to undergo an oophorectomy, the removal of the ovaries, thus reducing the chance of also developing ovarian cancer.
In today’s modern and advanced genetic testing, getting to know one’s probability of suffering certain diseases is more than an accessible possibility. Hundreds of genetic tests are currently being used around the world to protect and acquaint people about a course of action that could be taken before it is too late. Several other genetic tests are currently being developed directed towards a number of syndromes, conditions and diseases. Experts state that the modern biotechnological resources, research and development in genetic testing will soon allow us to predict with exact precision what diseases we will inherit, and even what we could possibly die of.
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