Actress’ impact on genetic testing for breast, ovarian cancer is ‘global and long lasting’
Angelina Jolie – Photo courtesy of the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office
By Mary Engel / Fred Hutch News Service
Sept. 18, 2014
The so-called Angelina Jolie effect not only is real but has been “global and long lasting,” leading to a twofold increase in the number of women getting genetic testing to help determine their risk for hereditary breast cancer, according to new studies from the United Kingdom and Canada.
The number of women found to have a genetic mutation that increased their risk also has doubled.
And contrary to concerns that women at low risk for hereditary breast cancer would flood testing centers, researchers said that those being tested are women like Jolie who have a family history of breast cancer or who have personal risk factors such as ethnicity.
Certain ethnic groups, including Ashkenazi Jews, have a higher prevalence of BCRA mutations, which significantly increase breast cancer risk.
Women got the correct message
“What surprised us was that we didn’t get the worried well,” said Dr. Andrea Eisen, head of preventive oncology for breast cancer care at the Sunnybrook Odette Cancer Centre in Toronto and an author of the Canadian study, in a phone interview. “We got women who got the correct message. That was gratifying.”
Jolie disclosed in a May 2013 op-ed in The New York Times that she had undergone a preventive double mastectomy after finding that she carries the rare BRCA1 gene mutation, which dramatically raises her risk of breast and ovarian cancers. Continue reading