Angelina Jolie’s Double Mastectomy Raised Little Awareness About the Disease: Survey

By Vishakha Sonawane, Parent Herald December 20, 09:03 am

Angelina Jolie's announcement of undergoing double mastectomy to prevent breast cancer has raised little awareness about the disease among women, a new study shows.

Over 2, 500 Americans were surveyed for the study. The researchers found that three out of four knew about the actress' breast cancer, but fewer than 10 percent of them were able to answer questions about the BRCA gene mutation. A mutation in BRCA raises the risk of developing breast cancer.

The study was led by researchers in the University of Maryland School of Public Health and the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. 

"Ms. Jolie's health story was prominently featured throughout the media and was a chance to mobilize health communicators and educators to teach about the nuanced issues around genetic testing, risk, and prophylactic surgery," explained lead author Dina Borzekowski, who is a research professor in the University of Maryland School of Public Health's Department of Behavior and Community Health, according to Red Orbit. "It feels like it was a missed opportunity to educate the public about a complex but rare health situation."

Just half of those surveyed knew about her estimated risk of breast cancer before the surgery, but fewer than 10 percent were aware about the risk of an average woman without a BRCA gene mutation.

Women with mutations in either of the two genes, BRCA1 and BRCA2, are at the risk of breast cancer that is about five times the normal risk. They even carry a risk of ovarian cancer that is about ten to thirty times normal.


Half of the survey respondents wrongly thought that no family history of breast cancer meant zero chance of developing the disease.

Dr Debra Roter, co-author of the study, explained many women without family history breast cancer develop the disease. So it is important for them to understand the fact that breast cancer can be developed without family history too.

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