Women React to Angelina Jolie's Decision to Get a Mastectomy

By: Anna-Lysa Gayle Email
By: Anna-Lysa Gayle Email

HARRISONBURG -- Angelina Jolie's decision to get a mastectomy is not uncommon.

"In her case, I think it was a good choice," said Dr. Heidi Rafferty, a medical director with Rockingham Memorial Hospital Women's Center.

She thinks Jolie is sending a positive message to all women.

"It can empower women to think about themselves, think about their family histories and of course as women we're always thinking about our families and our children," said Dr. Rafferty.

She adds that a mastectomy is something that is helpful for women at high risk of getting breast cancer.

"There's a greater than 90 percent risk reduction that you're going to get breast cancer," said Dr. Rafferty.

"I think if it saves your life, I probably would consider it too," said Barbara Anders, who lost her friend to the disease.

"Bilateral mastectomy, that would mean removal of all of the breast tissue, but not necessarily the nipple or reelin complex or the skin," said Dr. Rafferty, describing the procedure that Angelina Jolie underwent.

She recommends another preventative measure besides mastectomy that can prevent breast cancer, called intense surveillance.

"Intense surveillance simply means that you'd have a six month clinical examination every six months with your doctor," said Dr. Rafferty.

She also advises more women to follow Jolie's lead and get genetic testing for breast and ovarian cancer, before making the decision to get a mastectomy.

"You simply rinse out your mouth with a little Scope mouthwash and we send the mouthwash off to the genetic lab and you get it tested," said Dr. Rafferty.

RMH provides mobile mammogram screenings year-round.

To find out when the next mobile mammogram screening will be in your area, click here.
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