Actress’ Mastectomy Raises Awareness

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Actress Angelina Jolie announced Tuesday that she had both breasts removed in February.

The decision was prompted by her testing positive for a genetic mutation, called BRCA1.

This is something local resident Beth Lombardo is all too familiar with.

“My dad had the genetic testing done and it came back positive,” said Lombardo.

Lombardo had a 50 percent chance of having the mutation, tests confirmed it.  Six months later, she received more startling news.

“I found a lump in my lymph nodes on the right side,” said Lombardo.

That lump was cancer. Lombardo then made the tough choice; a preventative double mastectomy.

“I probably wouldn’t have done anything had I not known I had the mutation,” explained Lombardo.

The National Cancer Institute reported that on average, women have around a 12 percent chance of developing breast cancer. With the mutation, it’s substantially higher.

“If you don’t already have cancer, theres an over 80 percent chance you’re gonna get breast cancer,” said Dr. Nancy Gnatt, co-director of the Joanie Abdu Comprehensive Breast Cancer Center.

Gantt said the BRCA1 gene mutation accounts for roughly five to ten percent of all breast cancer cases, preventative mastectomys greatly lower the risk.

“If a very careful mastectomy is done, where we really take out as much breast tissue as we can, we reduce that risk by 90 percent, but there is still that ten percent,” said Gnatt.

Lombardo hopes Jolie’s announcement will inspire others.

“My aunt who actually had all the genetic testing done; yeah, she saved my life. She got the knowledge that I needed,” said Lombardo.

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