Tuesday 17 September 2019

The 'Angelina Jolie effect' sees breast checks double

Angelina Jolie
Angelina Jolie

John von Radowitz

Referrals for genetic breast cancer tests more than doubled due to what doctors have dubbed the "Angelina effect".

In May last year, actress Angelina Jolie revealed to the world that she had undergone a double mastectomy to prevent her getting breast cancer.

She took the decision after testing positive for the BRCA1 gene mutation that greatly increases the risk of developing the disease.

A new study has now measured the impact her surprise announcement made on women in Britain.

It shows that in June and July last year the number of GP referrals for genetic counselling and DNA tests for breast cancer mutations increased two-and-a-half times compared with 2012.

But the extra women seeking help were not worried about nothing- most had a family history of breast cancer, meaning they were being appropriately screened.

Professor Gareth Evans, from the charity Genesis Breast Cancer Prevention and St Mary's Hospital, Manchester, who led the study, said "Angelina Jolie stating she has a BRCA1 mutation and going on to have a risk-reducing mastectomy is likely to have had a bigger impact that other celebrity announcements, possibly due to her image as a glamorous and strong woman.

"These high-profile cases often mean that more women are inclined to contact centres so that they can be tested for the mutation early and take the necessary steps to prevent themselves from developing the disease."

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