Few seen as likely to follow Angelina Jolie's lead with mastectomy

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 16 May, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 16 May, 2013, 5:04am

Hollywood star Angelina Jolie's "relatively extreme" decision to have a double mastectomy to reduce her cancer risk is unlikely to become a trend, a campaigner for breast cancer awareness said yesterday - as celebrities who have had the disease praised the Hollywood star's courage.

Nine out of 10 breast cancer cases in Hong Kong were not inherited, so all women should be aware of their breasts' health - not only those who, like Jolie carried a gene that increased their risk - Sandra Mak Wong Siu-chun said.

"Care must be taken that the community does not get the impression that breast cancer is of concern only to women with hereditary concerns," said Mak, vice-chairwoman of the Hong Kong Breast Cancer Foundation.

Jolie said on Tuesday she had had the operation because she carried a mutant gene that put her at high risk and she did not want her children to lose their mother to the disease.

Hong Kong actress Liza Wang Ming-chun, a breast cancer survivor, praised Jolie for her bravery, while lawmaker Chan Yuen-han, who lost a breast to cancer, said the surgery had been a painful decision for herself.

"It's not an easy decision," Chan said. "[Jolie's] decision should be respected as it required a lot of bravery."

Mak said Jolie's action had shed light on women's "right of knowledge and right of decision". But she doubted it would become a trend. "It's a major decision to remove one's body parts, and a relatively extreme one in this case," she said.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer among Hong Kong women, with more than 3,000 cases a year, and it is the No 3 killer cancer.