By now many people have heard about Angelina Jolie undergoing a double mastectomy surgery earlier this month. Jolie, who learned she possessed a mutation of the BRCA 1 gene after taking a predisposition test, decided to go “under the knife” in an attempt to eliminate her risk of breast and ovarian cancer. Although it differs among women, Jolie said her doctors estimated a risk of 87 percent chance of breast cancer and a 50 percent chance of ovarian cancer in her future, based on the newly found mutation as well as her family history with breast cancer. As a result, Jolie chose to undergo surgery in an attempt to minimize her risk of acquiring this deadly cancer
Being a woman of her stature, Angelina Jolie’s decision to undergo a double mastectomy received a lot of media attention. However, one of the most note-worthy portions of the story occurs before the surgery does. That is, the power of predisposition testing. As mentioned earlier, Jolie learned about her condition after taking a predisposition test. The test spotlighted the mutated gene, which allowed doctors to warn her of her elevated risk of breast cancer and enabled Jolie to take the necessary steps, in her case, surgery, to get rid of the disease. Jolie is not alone.
Although Jolie’s case helped her spot breast cancer ahead of time, predisposition testing is not just for women. Aside from making millions of women aware of their risk for breast and ovarian cancer, predisposition testing has helped millions of men and women spot potential life-threatening illnesses they may be susceptible to in the future. Testing can help save a person from various types of cancer, immune disease, cardiovascular conditions and other general health conditions.
DNA predisposition testing takes a look at a person’s DNA in an attempt to identify certain indicators that, if present in the DNA, could leave a person prone to various immune, cardiovascular and cancerous diseases. So, while you may feel healthy today, the test identifies conditions and diseases that may affect you in the future. To an extent, predisposition testing allows doctors to see into the future in regards to you your physical health.
These tests are very effective. In Jolie’s case, her test picked up irregularities in her BRCA 1 gene, something that is normally very hard to detect in the early stages of the cancer’s development. And, while many people saw Jolie’s decision to undergo surgery as a possible risk, Jolie felt it was important to note that everyone deserves to have options. Early detection of a condition can, at the very least, provide a person with choices. Having a choice is much better than catching it too late and having no other options.
After her surgery, Angelina Jolie’s risk for breast cancer dropped from 87 percent and is now under 5 percent. She admitted a driving force in her double mastectomy was her children. Jolie said she can now tell her children they do not need to worry about losing her anytime soon to breast cancer. For a mother, this has to be one of the most satisfying things one can tell one’s kids. Jolie was able to overcome her high risk of breast cancer thanks to a predisposition test. It helped save her life, it can help yours too.