Angelina Jolie effect has doubled hospital breast cancer checksby The Daily Eye Team September 6 2013, 8:07 am Estimated Reading Time: 2 mins, 9 secs
The number of breast cancer checks at a major London hospital has doubled since Angelina Jolie revealed she had undergone a preventative double mastectomy.
Clinicians at Guy’s hospital and specialist nurses at its nine south London community clinics have seen about 80 patients a week in the wake of the actress making public that she had undergone surgery.
Dr Chris Jacobs, a consultant genetic counsellor at Guy’s hospital, said: “Without doubt there has been an increase in referrals to the genetic testing services since Angelina Jolie went public.”
The hospital, which provides genetic testing across London and the South East, found 937 of 1,500 tested last year carried the BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations that Ms Jolie, 38, inherited from her mother. The “faulty” genes increase the risk of breast cancer by about 80 per cent and ovarian cancer by about 50 per cent. Ms Jolie’s mother died of ovarian cancer aged 56 and her aunt died last month from breast cancer.
Guy’s runs clinics in GP surgeries and health centres in Southwark, Lambeth and Lewisham, with patients found to have the mutation offered appointments with specialists. One in eight women will develop breast cancer but only around one in 500 people carry a BRCA mutation.
Family history nurse specialist Belinda Lötter said: “We identify patients who would benefit from early breast screening and offer information about lifestyle to reduce the risk.
‘If we are concerned that a patient is at risk of developing an inherited form of cancer, we refer them to the clinical genetics department at Guy’s Hospital.” Consultant plastic surgeon Jian Farhadi said: “Double mastectomy and reconstruction is an option that many women consider. This surgery reduces the risk of breast cancer by 90 per cent. However the psychological, social and physical impact of this surgery needs to be carefully thought through.”
Emma Shrubsole, 28, from Hornchurch, had genetic testing at Guy’s after her mother tested positive for the gene. “I had a double mastectomy and reconstruction in March 2012,” she said.
“The process wasn’t easy, but I’d do it again knowing that I’m helping to save myself from this awful disease.”
Mother-of-two Jo Williams, 42, from Sevenoaks, was tested at Guy’s after her sister was diagnosed with breast cancer.
She said: “The test showed that I had an 80 per cent chance of getting breast cancer. I underwent a double mastectomy and reconstruction. It was just something that had to be done.”