Angelina Jolie had double mastectomy after discovering ‘Jewish gene’

(JTA) — Actress and director Angelina Jolie had a double mastectomy after discovering that she had the breast cancer gene common to Ashkenazi Jewish women.

Jolie wrote in an Op-Ed in the New York Times that she decided to have the surgery after being told she had the BRCA1 gene mutation, and that she had an 87 percent chance of developing breast cancer.

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Jolie’s mother died at a young age of cancer. Jolie wrote she wanted to reassure her six young children that she would not die young like her mother did.

“We often speak of ‘Mommy’s mommy,’ and I find myself trying to explain the illness that took her away from us. They have asked if the same could happen to me. I have always told them not to worry, but the truth is I carry a “faulty” gene, BRCA1, which sharply increases my risk of developing breast cancer and ovarian cancer,” Jolie wrote.

Late last month Jolie completed three months of surgeries including breast reconstruction.

“I choose not to keep my story private because there are many women who do not know that they might be living under the shadow of cancer. It is my hope that they, too, will be able to get gene tested,” Jolie wrote.

“I wanted to write this to tell other women that the decision to have a mastectomy was not easy. But it is one I am very happy that I made.”