Angelina Jolie reveals double mastectomy; more women opting for preventative procedure

DENVER - She is a symbol of American beauty and glamor, but now, Angelina Jolie has taken on a new face. The movie icon revealed she had a double mastectomy after a test showed she carries the breast cancer gene.

"My first reaction was you go girl," Liz Righthouse said.

It's a decision Liz Righthouse knows all too well. Six years ago she had both breasts removed after a test found a cancerous spot. She had a long family history of breast cancer.

"It's hard when you face your own mortality.  It's like wow, if I can stop this, if I can prevent this from going any further, that's what I want to do," Righthouse said.

A 2012 study estimates rates of women opting for preventative mastectomies have increased by 50 percent.  The National Cancer Institute says it can reduce your risk of developing breast cancer by over 90 percent. Still, it's not for everyone.

"There are a range of options available for women who are positive. It just depends on what the risk is, how they feel about the risk and what kind of prevention measures they'd like to participate in," said Swedish Medical Center genetic counselor, Kelly Johnson.

Johnson said other forms of prevention like high-risk screening and medication are less invasive and can be very effective. Johnson said only people with a family or personal cancer history should consider genetic testing.

The test is usually done through a simple blood test and costs about $3,000.  Johnson said most insurance companies consider it a preventative procedure and cover the cost.  However, all plans are different and Johnson said people should check with their insurance company.

Righthouse still doesn't know if she carries the cancer gene, but that decision she made six years ago allows her to live without fear.

"I would do the exact same thing," Righthouse told 7NEWS.


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