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Angelina Jolie announces she had double mastectomy

Published On: May 14 2013 06:18:07 PM CDT

Jolie announces double mastectomy in NY Times op-ed

She's as big and beautiful as you can be in Hollywood.

but in an op-ed for the New York Times actress Angelia Jolie talks about a very ugly subject, learning through genetic testing that she has "87 percent risk of breast cancer and a 50 percent risk of ovarian cancer "

Patients with a genetic predisposition to cancer, not actually having cancer itself are eligible for prophylactic mastectomies as well as breast reconstruction following them," said Dr. Randolph Wojcik with Lehigh Valley Health Network.

And that is exactly what Jolie says she did.

She says she had the double mastectomy for her family, and went public because she wants all women to know "they have options."

Genetic Counselor Tara Namey of Lehigh Valley Health Network says those options also include preventive medicines and aggressive screening.

She says most insurance companies will pay for genetic testing in people who have a family history of breast or ovarian cancer and for women diagnosed before the age of 45.

"Testing is important because it does uncover or unveil higher risks that what we would anticipate by family history alone," said Namey.

Namey says men with a breast cancer in their family tree can learn if they are at risk for prostate or pancreatic cancer.

It's important that before you get genetic testing you visit with a genetic counselor and learn the risks especially when it comes to getting insurance.

Namey says if you try to purchase a life insurance policy after the testing it could cost you more.

But in her op-ed Jolie encourages women at risk to get tested saying she was able to take control of her risk and lower it from 87 to 5 percent.

She says now, she can tell her children "that they don’t need to fear losing her to breast cancer."