Angelina Jolie, BRCA1 and the Power of Celebrity

angelina-jolieYesterday, arguably the most famous and most beautiful woman in the world announced her decision to get a double mastectomy earlier this year.  In an op-ed in The New York Times, actress and director Angelina Jolie revealed that she carries the BRCA1 gene mutation, which considerably elevates her risk for breast and ovarian cancer. Thousands of women every year learn that they carry this mutation, and Jolie’s decision to get a preventive double mastectomy is just one of several ways of dealing with this risk. What makes Jolie’s case unique, of course, is her celebrity, and her op-ed touched a nerve in the national conversation. What follows is a sampling of the response to Jolie’s decision, starting with SCCA’s Drs. Julie Gralow, Larissa Korde, and Elizabeth Swisher. Feel free to weigh in with your response at the end of this post.

  • Yesterday Dr. Julie Gralow was interviewed on KIRO radio by Dori Monson. In the interview, she outlines treatment options for women with BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations, which are not always getting a preventive double mastectomy. Listen to the interview here.
  • In this interview with Marni Hughes at Q13Fox TV, Dr. Larissa Korde addresses questions about whether you should get tested for BRCA1 or BRCA2. Watch Dr. Korde’s interview here (starts after the ad).
  • Today’s Seattle Times interviews Dr. Elizabeth Swisher in a story that provides a good overview of the risks that women who carry the  BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations face. Read the story here.
  • Last night in this segment, MSNBC’s Chris Hayes provided a good overview of the Jolie story. The segment that follows it includes two guests, one a medical journalist who underwent a preventive mastectomy, the other a Congresswoman whose work is focused in part on making BRCA1 screening more available.
  • WebMD’s Heather Millar wrote this thoughtful and generally positive post about Jolie’s decision to go public. However, she takes issue with Jolie’s notion of “taking control” of breast cancer.
  • This morning The Atlantic weighed in with a story about an upcoming ruling by the United States Supreme Court on whether someone—in this case Myriad Genetics—can hold a patent on the BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations.

Learn more about SCCA’s high-risk breast and ovarian clinic. Also, the American Cancer Society has a good overview about the risk factors for breast cancer, including, the BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations. And finally, in case you missed it above, here’s the link to Angelina Jolie’s op-ed.

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    1. By Celebrity and the Ripple Effect | ACCCBuzz on May 17, 2013 at 5:56 am

      [...] more on how ACCC member cancer programs responded this week, read “Angelina Jolie, BRCA1 and the Power of Celebrity” from Seattle Cancer Care [...]

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