Angelina Jolie has written in the New York Times about her decision to have her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to prevent her developing the cancer that killed her mother.
The actress had the surgery last week after learning she carried a genetic mutation on the BRCA1 gene which meant she was more likely to develop breast and ovarian cancer. It comes two years after the actress had both her breasts removed.
Jolie, whose original New York Times essay about her mastectomy led to double the number of women having tests for the BRCA mutation, said having the gene did not mean a "leap to surgery". But for her, it was the best option as three women in her family had died from cancer.
It is not possible to remove all risk, and the fact is I remain prone to cancer. I will look for natural ways to strengthen my immune system. I feel feminine, and grounded in the choices I am making for myself and my family. I know my children will never have to say, 'Mom died of ovarian cancer'.
She had the operation earlier than she had planned after a blood test revealed she could have some signs of early ovarian cancer, the disease that killed her mother Marcheline Bertrand at just 56.
That same day I went to see the surgeon, who had treated my mother. I last saw her the day my mother passed away, and she teared up when she saw me: 'You look just like her.' I broke down. But we smiled at each other and agreed we were there to deal with any problem, so 'let’s get on with it'.
The surgery means she is now in menopause, something which the actress wrote candidly about. "I will not be able to have any more children, and I expect some physical changes. But I feel at ease with whatever will come, not because I am strong but because this is a part of life. It is nothing to be feared," she said, adding:
I feel deeply for women for whom this moment comes very early in life, before they have had their children. Their situation is far harder than mine. I inquired and found out that there are options for women to remove their fallopian tubes but keep their ovaries, and so retain the ability to bear children and not go into menopause. I hope they can be aware of that.
To find out more about breast cancer genes, click here.
Watch our video on ovarian cancer below: