Angelina Jolie Pitt has written an article titled Diary of a Surgery for The New York Times explaining her decision to have her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed. It was, Jolie writes, a decision that she had been planning for some time due to her family history.
In 2013 Angelina Jolie wrote of her decision to undergo a preventative double mastectomy. Jolie carried the BRCA1 gene mutation, which gave her an 87 per cent risk of developing breast cancer during her lifetime. Jolie lost her mother, aunt and grandmother to cancer.
A worrying blood test, with inflammatory markers that can indicate early signs of ovarian cancer, made Jolie undergo the complex surgery to remove her ovaries and fallopian tubes earlier than she had expected to. While further scans and tests came back clear from cancer Jolie, under the advice from her doctors, decided to go through with the operation anyway. However she says that her decision may not be right for all women.
“I did not do this solely because I carry the BRCA1 gene mutation, and I want other women to hear this. A positive BRCA test does not mean a leap to surgery. I have spoken to many doctors, surgeons and naturopaths. There are other options. Some women take birth control pills or rely on alternative medicines combined with frequent checks. There is more than one way to deal with any health issue. The most important thing is to learn about the options and choose what is right for you personally,” she writes.
The removal of the ovaries and fallopian tubes means the onset of menopause. For Jolie, who is 39, this is something that she recognises as a difficult decision, especially for women who have not yet had children.
However Jolie remains resolute in her decision to take control – to the best of her abilities – of her health.
“It is not easy to make these decisions. But it is possible to take control and tackle head-on any health issue. You can seek advice, learn about the options and make choices that are right for you. Knowledge is power,” she writes.