Angelina Jolie

Photo: Oli Scarff/Getty Images

In a stunning and beautiful op-ed for the NY Times, Angelina Jolie has revealed that earlier this year she had a double mastectomy to reduce her chances of developing breast cancer. 

The 37-year-old actress says a test revealed she had an "87 percent risk of breast cancer and a 50 percent risk of ovarian cancer" due to an inherited (and notorious) gene mutation known as BRCA1. Jolie's mother, Marcheline Bertrand, passed away from ovarian cancer at age 56.

"Once I knew that this was my reality, I decided to be proactive and to minimize the risk as much as I could. I made a decision to have a preventive double mastectomy," she writes. "I started with the breasts, as my risk of breast cancer is higher than my risk of ovarian cancer, and the surgery is more complex. On April 27, I finished the three months of medical procedures that the mastectomies involved."

She adds that while she kept her surgeries private, she's now going public to encourage and inform other women of the tests, procedures and options available to reduce the risk of breast and ovarian cancer.

"For any woman reading this, I hope it helps you to know you have options. I want to encourage every woman, especially if you have a family history of breast or ovarian cancer, to seek out the information and medical experts who can help you through this aspect of your life, and to make your own informed choices.

"I acknowledge that there are many wonderful holistic doctors working on alternatives to surgery. My own regimen will be posted in due course on the website of the Pink Lotus Breast Center. I hope that this will be helpful to other women."

The Pink Lotus Breast Center website is already promoting a behind-the-scenes look at Jolie's journey — encouraging people to follow them on Facebook and Twitter to find out when it will be available. 

Jolie's voice on this issue will carry far and wide; raising awareness and informing women on the tests and treatments available. I commend her bravery for going public and sharing her experience — something she says was made more bearable thanks to her partner, Brad Pitt. 

"I am fortunate to have a partner, Brad Pitt, who is so loving and supportive," she writes. "So to anyone who has a wife or girlfriend going through this, know that you are a very important part of the transition. Brad was at the Pink Lotus Breast Center, where I was treated, for every minute of the surgeries. We managed to find moments to laugh together. We knew this was the right thing to do for our family and that it would bring us closer. And it has."

Related on MNN: What is the BRCA1 gene?

Michael d'Estries ( @michaeldestries ) covers science, technology, art, and the beautiful, unusual corners of our incredible world.

Angelina Jolie underwent a double mastectomy to reduce cancer risk
Actress details in a revealing op-ed why she decided to undergo the procedure and how she hopes her experience will benefit other women.