What We Think About Angelina’s Breasts, by Emelia Brogna DPT

Posted by Laura on May 16, 2013 in All Wellness News | 0 comments

 

Everyone’s talking about Angelina. Thankfully, it’s not just tabloid speculation about whether or not she is pregnant, why she’s not yet married to Brad Pitt, or ever more chatter about the size of her boobs.

Oh. What’s that? It IS about her boobs?!! 

I must admit, dear reader, I’ve never had strong feelings one way or another for Angelina, or BrAngelina or any other ‘Lina’. I know that she has had her detractors and her loyal fans, and I am neither. But today I will say four words I never imagined I would have occasion to say: Thank you Angelina Jolie.

 

Angelina Jolie Angelina opened herself up to a firestorm of comments, both good and bad, by making the announcement that she had prophylactic mastectomies. She also insinuated that she will undergo an oophorectomy to have her ovaries removed. (At least that may end the incessant paparazzi chatter about if she is, or is not, pregnant.)

Her courage to voluntarily take the barrage of criticism is incredibly selfless. For that, I applaud her.

As a PT with a specialization in Breast Cancer care, these are issues I frequently discuss with my patients, and therefore feel it’s important to clarify a few critical items that may be murky in the wake of all this media attention.

1. Angelina’s risk for Breast Cancer is was extremely high. She represents a very small minority of women who carry the BRCA1 (pronounced Brack-Ah one) gene. Her course of treatment is not recommended for women with “normal” breast cancer risk.

2. Having a positive BRCA1 or BRCA2 test does not mean that you have cancer, however, your chances of developing breast or ovarian cancer are as much as 90% higher than the general population.

3. Mastectomies and oophrectomies are currently the treatment of choice for women who are unable to tolerate the high risk of developing breast cancer. Angelina chose this route, but many women follow a very close screening protocol and catch cancer early. As the excellent marketing team at Komen have so clearly instilled in us, early detection saves lives.

4. Men can carry this genetic mutation and develop breast cancer too. Genetic testing will reveal their risk just the same way it would in a woman. Many oncology centers now have genetic counselors who can help you decide if you need to have genetic testing.

5. And finally, a point about the ever-present hot buttons, cost and insurance coverage. Some insurance companies will cover the cost of BRCA screening if you have a family history of breast cancer. Others will not. The coverage of prophylactic surgery also varies from one insurance company to the next. Check with your insurance company regarding coverage. Talk with your doctor if you have questions about your risk for developing any type of cancer.

We all make different choices about our health care. And there is not a “right” answer here. I am grateful that we are able to talk about this and proud that Angelina (a woman who’s breasts have been in the spotlight before) has been able to openly discuss her decision. Although she has lost some mammary tissue, in my mind, she is more of a woman now than ever before.

If you have any questions, feel free to call our office at 802.863.9900 or email Emelia at emelia@allwellnessvt.com. Both of our Physical Therapists, Joan Shaplin and Emelia Brogna, have specializations in working with women who have breast cancer.


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