MIAMI (CBS4) – Angelina Jolie’s stunning announcement Tuesday morning that she underwent a preventive double mastectomy has the world talking.
She made the very personal decision because she had a test done that showed that she had the BRCA gene – that dramatically increased her risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer.
So what is the BRCA gene and can anyone get the test Jolie got?
The BRCA gene is hereditary, so if someone under 50 in your family had breast or ovarian cancer, doctors recommend you get tested to see if you have the faulty BRCA gene.
CBS4’s Cynthia Demos spoke with someone who did the test and took action. She’s now in a group, not called breast cancer survivors, but pre-vivors instead.
“I said when can I be scheduled, it’s kind of a no brainier,” said pre-vivor Wendy Unger.
When Unger’s sister, Nancy, said she was positive with the BRCA1 gene Wendy went to go get tested as well. What she found out was that she was positive too and elected to have a double mastectomy.
“It was a tough decision, emotional,” said Unger.
However, Unger and her husband decided it was the right choice when Dr. Elisa Krill-Jackson of Mt. Sinai Hospital gave them the facts. Wendy elected to not only have a mastectomy but a hysterectomy as well.
“We really can’t screen for ovarian cancer, so only way to decrease risk is remove ovaries,” said Dr. Krill-Jackson.
When you test positive for BRCA, you have a 80% increase risk of getting breast cancer and a 20-40% chance of getting ovarian cancer.
The BRCA test is simple saliva or blood test that costs about three to four thousand, if you have a history there is a chance insurance will kick in.
Unger said she was 100% covered by her insurance and she is thankful she found out and made the right choice.
“If I had the opportunity for God to talk to me on the shoulder and say you have a risk but you can do something about it,” said Unger. “I was blessed.”
if this runs in your family doctors recommend the BRCA test; not just for women but men as well.