SWFL breast surgeons say Angelina Jolie is helping pave the way for prevention
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FT. MYERS Fla.- A Hollywood A-Lister is in the spotlight but it isn't for a role on the silver screen. Angelina Jolie revealed she had a double mastectomy after discovering a mutant gene that skyrockets the risk of developing cancer. BBreast surgeons said once this gene is discovered there's a 60-80 percent chance of getting cancer so it's better to be pro-active than re-active.
Dr. Lea Blackwell's Fort Myers practice treats patients of all different ages, genders and ethnicity's she says breast cancer has no specific target but it does run in the family.
“The people you want to gene test are people that have a family history of ovarian cancer, breast cancer under the age of 40.” Dr. Blackwell said.
Dr. Blackwell said the mutant gene comes in two forms BRCA 1 and 2. Each can increase a woman's cancer risks. The doctor said ideally it's best to test for the gene on someone who already has cancer.
“In Angelina Jolie's case her mom would be tested but if her mom's already passed away and can't be tested then you test the next relative and the test is a blood test so it's a really easy test to do.” Dr. Blackwell said.
The gene test has only been around for about a decade, it costs $3,000 to test for it. Doctor Blackwell said says that's money well spent if you've got a family history.
“People that have like a sister with ovarian cancer, that got tested and came back with the gene and then they found out they had the gene and were able to use that knowledge to protect themselves.” Dr. Blackwell said.
She said many of her patients are hesitant to get a mastectomy before a cancer diagnosis and she hopes the movie star's decision will encourage others to give it more consideration.
“I think it's a really nice thing she's developing public awareness. I think it empowers people because if they know they gave the gene they can do something about it before they get the cancer.” Dr. Blackwell said.