Angelina Jolie has announced that she has undergone further surgery to cut her risk of cancer, this time having her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed.
The announcement in a New York Times column printed on Tuesday came nearly two years after the rights campaigner and mother-of-six had a double mastectomy after hearing she had also inherited a high risk of breast cancer due to the gene mutation BRCA1.
Jolie, 39, said she had gone public with her decision to tell other women about the options available to them.
"I feel feminine, and grounded in the choices I am making for myself and my family. I know my children will never have to say, 'Mom died of ovarian cancer,'" Jolie wrote.
The procedure had triggered menopause, she added. "I will not be able to have any more children, and I expect some physical changes. But I feel at ease with whatever will come, not because I am strong but because this is a part of life. It is nothing to be feared."
Angelina had anticipated further surgery
Discussing her double mastectomy in a previous interview for the New York Times Op-ed in 2013, Angelina indicated that she would need to undergo a further surgical procedure in the future.
"There’s still another surgery to have, which I haven’t yet .... I’ll, you know, I’ll get advice from all these wonderful people who I’ve been talking to, to get through that next stage."
She stated that she started with the removal of her breasts, as her risk of breast cancer was higher than her risk of ovarian cancer and that the surgery was more complex.
Read: The ovary-removal procedure
The faulty gene
Angelina carries a faulty gene BRCA1 that puts people who have it at risk not only for breast cancer but ovarian cancer as well. Ovarian cancer is a malignant disease affecting the ovaries (egg-producing organs) of women.
According to genetic tests her doctors estimated that she had an 87% breast cancer risk – and after the double mastectomy surgery her chances of breast cancer were reduced to less than 5%.
The removal of her ovaries will eliminate her 50% risk of developing ovarian cancer. According to Dr Noah Kauff of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Centre in New York, removing the ovaries may lower a woman's main cancer risk though there is still a risk for uterine cancer.
Uterine cancer, also called endometrial cancer, is most common between the ages of 55 and 70. Fortunately there are various treatments available, such as surgery, radiotherapy, hormone therapy, or chemotherapy – used alone or in combination.
Gene study adding to research of breast cancer risk for BRCA1 carriers
Angelina: preventative breast removal
Angelina's double mastectomy safest choice for some women
Sources: Health24; The New York Times; Entertainment Weekly