What is a prophylactic mastectomy?

Angelina Jolie had the mastectomy preemptively done—otherwise known as a prophylactic mastectomy. She had a gene mutation. Her lifetime risk of getting breast cancer was probably about 85 to 90 percent, which is huge because for the average woman, it's 12 percent. So, we know in a situation like that, if you have a mutation, removing your breast tissue with a mastectomy drops your risk for getting breast cancer by over 90 percent.

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A prophylactic mastectomy is removal of the breast tissue by a qualified breast surgeon in a patient who is at risk for breast cancer before he or she develops breast cancer. This greatly reduces the risk for developing breast cancer in the future.

Prophylactic mastectomy is an aggressive preventive surgery that removes both breasts before any cancer is detected. It can reduce the risk of breast cancer by approximately 90 percent. Removing the ovaries (prophylactic oophorectomy) may also be a preventive choice for women with an inherited breast cancer gene abnormality, since the risk for ovarian cancer is also greater for these women.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.