Angelina Jolie’s decision to publicise her double mastectomy led to a sharp rise in breast cancer genetic testing, researchers have said. The star announced in May 2013 that she had undergone surgery in order to reduce her chances of getting the disease. “My doctors estimated that I had an 87% risk of breast cancer and a 50% risk of ovarian cancer, although the risk is different in the case of each woman,” she wrote in the New York Times. Women who carry the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genetic faults have a higher risk of breast and ovarian cancer. “Once I knew that this was my reality, I decided to be proactive and to minimise the risk as much I could,” she said.
I made a decision to have a preventive double mastectomy.
Now, experts in the US have said they found a steep increase in breast cancer gene testing in the weeks following her announcement - but no change in overall mastectomy rates. The team of researchers looked into data concerning nine million insured American women aged 18 to 64, and said they found a 64% increase in BRCA testing rates in the 15 working days after Jolie’s editorial was published. The Hollywood actress, who is one of the world’s highest paid performers, says the cost of getting tested for BRCA1 and 2 is more than $3,000 (£2,390) in the US.