Angelina Jolie opened up in a New York Times op-ed article about another preventive surgery to remove her ovaries and Fallopian tubes to reduce her risk of cancer. Jolie, who was forced into menopause with her surgery, says she gets regular screenings and tests and a recent test came back normal, but was urged by her doctor to meet with a surgeon due to the test having a high percent of missing ovarian cancer in its early stages.
I had been planning this for some time. It is a less complex surgery than the mastectomy, but its effects are more severe. It puts a woman into forced menopause. So I was readying myself physically and emotionally, discussing options with doctors, researching alternative medicine, and mapping my hormones for estrogen or progesterone replacement. But I felt I still had months to make the date.
Then two weeks ago I got a call from my doctor with blood-test results. “Your CA-125 is normal,” he said. I breathed a sigh of relief. That test measures the amount of the protein CA-125 in the blood, and is used to monitor ovarian cancer. I have it every year because of my family history.
But that wasn’t all. He went on. “There are a number of inflammatory markers that are elevated, and taken together they could be a sign of early cancer.” I took a pause. “CA-125 has a 50 to 75 percent chance of missing ovarian cancer at early stages,” he said. He wanted me to see the surgeon immediately to check my ovaries.
Jolie had a preventive double mastectomy two years ago to prevent cancer as she carries a gene (BRCA1 gene mutation) that gives her a much higher risk of cancer. Jolie tested negative for cancer, but was given the option to remove her ovaries and fallopian tubes to which she decided she would.
“The day of the results came. The PET/CT scan looked clear, and the tumor test was negative. I was full of happiness, although the radioactive tracer meant I couldn’t hug my children. There was still a chance of early stage cancer, but that was minor compared with a full-blown tumor. To my relief, I still had the option of removing my ovaries and fallopian tubes and I chose to do it,” she wrote. “Last week, I had the procedure: a laparoscopic bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy. There was a small benign tumor on one ovary, but no signs of cancer in any of the tissues.”
Brad as always flew to be by her side during this time. I love how open Angelina has been with these issues.
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