London: Researchers at a breast cancer prevention clinic have observed an increased uptake of preventative double mastectomies since May 2013 when Hollywood actor Angelina Jolie announced that she had undergone the procedure.
“We have seen a clear increase in the number of women undergoing preventative double mastectomies, starting around nine months after Angelina Jolie’s announcement about her own surgery,” said lead author Gareth Evans, professor of clinical genetics at Genesis Breast Cancer Prevention.
The researchers reported that the number of preventative double mastectomies performed after consultation at the clinic doubled from January 2014 to June 2015.
The number of preventative double mastectomies performed on women with BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations – genes that put women at breast cancer risk – rose from 17 in 2011-2012 to 31 from 2014 onward.
Having previously identified an upsurge in referrals to breast cancer, the researchers pointed out that it takes between nine and 12 months from initial inquiries to surgery taking place.
Although the researchers did not collect information on women’s motivation for undergoing surgery, they speculate that the increase is attributable to Jolie.
Jolie underwent a preventative double mastectomy after losing her mother to breast cancer and discovered that she carried a mutation in the BRCA1 gene, which increases the risk of developing breast cancer and ovarian cancer.
The study was published in the journal Breast Cancer Research.