Angelina Jolie Has Surgery To Remove Ovaries And Fallopian Tube
Angelina Jolie had surgery last week to remove her ovaries and fallopian tube, two years after undergoing a preventative double mastectomy.
Jolie reveals the news in a guest column for the New York Times, much like she did for her prior operation in 2013, when genetic testing indicated she was at high risk of developing breast cancer because she possessed the mutated BRCA1 gene. The actress writes that she was “planning this for some time,” but thought she had “months to make the date” before getting some suspect test results two weeks ago. Jolie’s blood tests revealed some of her inflammatory markers were elevated, and she was urged to see a surgeon “immediately.” She continues:
“I went through what I imagine thousands of other women have felt. I told myself to stay calm, to be strong, and that I had no reason to think I wouldn’t live to see my children grow up and to meet my grandchildren.
I called my husband [Brad Pitt] in France, who was on a plane within hours. The beautiful thing about such moments in life is that there is so much clarity. You know what you live for and what matters. It is polarizing, and it is peaceful.
That same day I went to see the surgeon, who had treated my mother. I last saw her the day my mother passed away, and she teared up when she saw me: ‘You look just like her.’ I broke down. But we smiled at each other and agreed we were there to deal with any problem, so ‘let’s get on with it.'”
Jolie says she spent the next five days waiting for more test results “in a haze, attending my children’s soccer game, and working to stay calm and focused.” While the PET/CT scans ended up being clear, and her tumor test was negative, “there was still a chance of early stage cancer,” and, given extensive family history of cancer, she chose to have both her ovaries and her fallopian tube removed. “My doctors indicated I should have preventive surgery about a decade before the earliest onset of cancer in my female relatives. My mother’s ovarian cancer was diagnosed when she was 49. I’m 39,” writes Jolie.
The procedure, laparoscopic bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy, revealed a “a small benign tumor on one ovary, but no signs of cancer in any of the tissues.” Jolie opted to keep her uterus, and is now taking hormone supplements that should help prevent uterine cancer. Jolie stresses in her piece that she is not suggesting a “leap to surgery” for all women, and writes:
It is not possible to remove all risk, and the fact is I remain prone to cancer. I will look for natural ways to strengthen my immune system. I feel feminine, and grounded in the choices I am making for myself and my family. I know my children will never have to say, ‘Mom died of ovarian cancer.’
Regardless of the hormone replacements I’m taking, I am now in menopause. I will not be able to have any more children, and I expect some physical changes. But I feel at ease with whatever will come, not because I am strong but because this is a part of life. It is nothing to be feared.
I feel deeply for women for whom this moment comes very early in life, before they have had their children. Their situation is far harder than mine. I inquired and found out that there are options for women to remove their fallopian tubes but keep their ovaries, and so retain the ability to bear children and not go into menopause. I hope they can be aware of that.
It is not easy to make these decisions. But it is possible to take control and tackle head-on any health issue. You can seek advice, learn about the options and make choices that are right for you. Knowledge is power.”
Prior to her surgeries, Jolie had an 87 percent chance of getting breast cancer, and a 50 percent chance for ovarian cancer. The star’s beloved mother, Marcheline Bertrand, had breast cancer before dying of ovarian cancer, as did her grandmother, while her aunt died of breast cancer. Less than two weeks ago, as Jolie was already in the midst of this ordeal, Gossip Cop corrected an inaccurate tabloid report that falsely claimed she was delaying her surgery in order to have another baby. Gossip Cop sends the actress our best wishes.