Call For Angelina Jolie Gene Test To Prevent Breast Cancer

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IN PHOTO: Actress Angelina Jolie (C) and her mother Marcheline Bertrand (L) pose with actress Jacqueline Bisset at the premiere of Jolie's new film "Original Sin" July 31, 2001 in Hollywood. The film, which opens August 3 in the United States, also stars Antonio Banderas in a sexy, suspenseful thriller about the power of love and obsession. FSP/SV

Angelina Jolie is inspiring women across the world to undergo genetic test to check for mutations which cause cancer. Jolie earlier had mastectomy and also removed ovaries to prevent cancer. Medical practitioners across US and UK have supported the call for mass genetic testing to detect cancer causing mutations.

The routine genetic tests for the “Angelina Jolie type genetic mutations” or “BRCA type mutations” would help in saving lives. The Times have reported that experts have called for mass screening of women for BRCA mutations to detect the possibility of cancer at earlier stages. These routine tests were deemed as “no brainer” by doctors and would potentially save lives.

Angelina Jolie underwent genetic testing because of family history of breast and ovarian cancer. She lost her mother and aunt to cancer and had her breasts and ovaries surgically removed. This reduced her chance of getting cancer to almost 5%. According to Emergency Care Research Institute about 1 in 400 women carry mutations in their BRAC 1 and 2 genes and have a 90% probability of getting cancer.

Medical experts have called for genetic screening for women in their 30’s to be offered under the National Health Service. Some experts argue that this is unnecessary as many women do not have a hereditary history. But Dr. Elizabeth Swisher, professor of medical genetics at Washington University in Seattle, told American Society of Clinical Oncology's conference that almost 40% of the women with mutations have no family history, reports Cosmopolitan.

"Introducing population screening is a no brainer. It would definitely save lives. Not only are they aggressive cancers, they are early onset so you have a lot of years of life to save,” she said. But screening tests are sometimes prohibitively expensive. At $395 (USD 305) per person, it is not considered cost effective. But Swisher proves the point by stating that the treatment costs can be enormous and prolonged.

So it might be better to be safe by taking preventive measures with the screening information. Genetic screening for cancers has gained momentum with Angelina Jolie’s high profile surgeries.

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