Oscar-winning US actress Angelina Jolie has said she underwent a preventive double mastectomy. She chose the surgery after learning she carried a gene that makes it extremely likely she would get breast cancer.
Angelina Jolie made the announcement in the form of an op-ed she authored for Tuesday's New York Times under the headline, "My Medical Choice."
After genetic testing she learned she carries the "faulty" BRCA1 gene and had an 87 percent chance of getting breast cancer herself.
Jolie, 37, said that she made the choice to get the procedure done with thoughts of her six children after watching her own mother die of breast cancer at the age of 56.
"I wanted to write this to tell other women that the decision to have a mastectomy was not easy. But it is one I am very happy that I made," she wrote. "My chances of developing breast cancer have dropped from 87 percent to under 5 percent. I can tell my children that they don't need to fear they will lose me to breast cancer."
Between early February and late April she completed the surgical procedures to remove both breasts and also completed a reconstruction with implants.
"I do not feel any less of a woman," Jolie writes. "I feel empowered that I made a strong choice that in no way diminishes my femininity."
Many women have chosen preventive mastectomy since genetic screening for breast cancer was developed, however testing is still very expensive, around $3,000 (2,283 euros).
Jolie, one of Hollywood's best-known faces, also thanked her partner, and fellow actor, Brad Pitt for his support.
Jolie has appeared in dozens of films and won an Academy Award for her role in 1999's "Girl, Interrupted."
Along with her acting career, Jolie has also been a United Nations Goodwill Ambassador since 2001.
hc/dr (Reuters, AP, AFP)