Hollywood megastar Angelina Jolie announced Tuesday that she has had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed over fears of a hereditary form of cancer, following her double mastectomy two years ago.
The actress, who has lost her mother, grandmother and aunt to the disease, said she had the procedure last week after results from a blood test raised fears that she may be in the early stages of cancer.
Jolie's publicizing of her double mastectomy pushed the issue into the spotlight, sparking a debate about the pros and cons of the procedure as a preventative measure.
Although tests showed she was not in fact in the early stages of cancer, Jolie said she chose to go ahead with the surgery because of her family history and because she carries a gene mutation that had given her a 50 percent risk of developing ovarian cancer, the same mutation that put her at 87 percent risk of developing breast cancer.
"A positive BRCA test does not mean a leap to surgery," said Jolie, who is married to fellow Hollywood heavyweight Brad Pitt with whom she has six children.
Her doctors said that she should have the preventive surgery about a decade before the earliest onset of cancer in her female relatives.
"My mother’s ovarian cancer was diagnosed when she was 49. I’m 39."
Jolie said that she had been preparing for the possibility of ovary removal ever since her double mastectomy, but thought she had plenty of time to plan the procedure.
But two weeks ago, she said, she got a call from a doctor who said her blood test results had "a number of inflammatory markers that are elevated, and taken together they could be a sign of early cancer." She was told to see a surgeon immediately.