Angelina Jolie revealed on Tuesday that she has undergone a preventive double mastectomy to reduce her risk of cancer.
The American actress wrote in an opinion piece entitled “My Medical Choice” in The New York Times that she had chosen the procedure because she carries a faulty gene that increases her risk of breast and ovarian cancer.
The actress, who has six children with actor Brad Pitt, revealed that she completed the three months of medical procedures that the mastectomies involved on April 27.
"During that time I have been able to keep this private and to carry on with my work," she said.
Jolie's mother, the actress Marcheline Bertrand, died in January 2007 of ovarian cancer at the age of 56. In the poignant piece, the Tomb Raider star tells how her children, some of whom never got to meet their grandmother, often ask if the same thing could happen to her.
"I have always told them not to worry, but the truth is I carry a “faulty” gene, BRCA1, which sharply increases my risk of developing breast cancer and ovarian cancer.
My doctors estimated that I had an 87 percent risk of breast cancer and a 50 per cent risk of ovarian cancer, although the risk is different in the case of each woman."
“Once I knew that this was my reality, I decided to be proactive and to minimize the risk as much I could. I made a decision to have a preventive double mastectomy,” she wrote.
“I started with the breasts, as my risk of breast cancer is higher than my risk of ovarian cancer, and the surgery is more complex,” Jolie added.
Jolie said her chances of developing breast cancer are now down to five percent.
Jolie and Pitt have three adopted and three biological children.
“I can tell my children they don’t need to fear they will lose me to breast cancer,” Jolie said.