Angelina Jolie’s preventive double mastectomy, which the actress described in an editorial in the New York Times in May, didn’t appear to improve understanding of breast cancer risk, a study found.
The research, published today in Genetics in Medicine, surveyed more than 2,500 adults in the U.S. three weeks after Jolie revealed that she had undergone the surgery because she carried a rare genetic mutation of the BRCA1 gene and had a family history of cancer. The survey found three out of four Americans were aware that Jolie had the operation.
“Ms. Jolie’s reach is exceptional,” said Dina Borzekowski, lead author of the study and a professor at the University of Maryland School of Public Health, in an e-mailed statement. “Our study confirms that the public became aware of her health narrative. What was lost was the rarity of Jolie’s situation and how BRCA is associated with breast cancer.”
Jolie, 38, an Academy Award-winning actress, decided to write about her decision so other women could benefit from her experience and be encouraged to undergo genetic testing, she said in the editorial. Jolie, whose mother fought breast cancer for almost a decade, now has less than a 5 percent chance of getting the disease.