When Angelina Jolie announced that she had a preventative double mastectomy, the term "BRCA1 gene" became commonplace.
The star's surgery was a drastic decision that many people questioned, but also created the "Angelina Jolie Effect" which inspired many women to follow in her footsteps.
More U.S. women with early stage breast cancer are opting to have both breasts removed as a precautionary measure.
However, research shows a double mastectomy provides no apparent survival advantage.
When someone is diagnosed as being a carrier of the BRCA1 or 2 mutation, they are at a 75-80 percent higher risk for developing breast cancer and 45 percent for ovarian cancer by the age of 70.
Furthermore, there is a dirty little secret about the BRCA1 and 2 gene... you are also at a higher risk for a very vigilant form of breast cancer called triple negative breast cancer. These staggering statistics and facts resulted in the tide shifting and opting for the "risk reduction surgery." The reason it is called risk reduction surgery is because the risk is still there, it's just drastically reduced.
There are so many factors that come into play when making this decision. If someone is diagnosed with breast cancer, but does not carry the BRCA gene, removing your opposite breast will not affect your survival rate.
Medical Director of the Breast Health Program at Holy Redeemer Health System in Huntingdon Valley, Pennsylvania, Dr. Beth DuPree helps to educate both women and men about the preventative double mastectomy.