| 4.7°C Dublin

Stars who went through breast surgery praise Angelina's decision to speak out

TV STAR Michelle Heaton has described Angelina Jolie's decision to reveal her double mastectomy as "incredibly important".

The former You're A Star judge (33) last year told how she had to have her breasts removed in order to fight a cancer gene.

Ms Heaton (top right), who is married to Dubliner Hugh Hanley, said she took the decision so that she could live life again.

She, along with former X-Factor judge Sharon Osbourne (below right), are among a small number of celebrities who have spoken about the surgery.

Ms Heaton was told by medics last summer that she had inherited the BRCA2 gene – which gave her an 80pc chance of developing breast cancer. She said she hopes Angelina Jolie's decision to go public will help others.

"I hope with myself, Angelina Jolie and also Sharon Osbourne, over the last six months with this coming to light in the press, it's had a positive aspect for women out there who are deciding whether they should be tested for this gene or not."

According to Ms Heaton, Jolie's stature as a major Hollywood actress could have a extremely positive impact. She added: "Imagine what impact somebody as huge as Angelina Jolie can have on this. I really do think that the BRCA gene has only come to light over the last year or two. It is a massive thing that women need to learn about and know that, if this runs in your family, you need to get tested because the options available are incredibly amazing."

Sharon Osbourne revealed last November that she had undergone the same operation.

Osbourne (60) had battled colon cancer a decade ago and took the decision after finding out she carries a gene which increases the risk of developing breast cancer. In an interview at the time, she said: "As soon as I found out I had the breast cancer gene, I thought, 'The odds are not in my favour'.

"I've had cancer before and I didn't want to live under that cloud: I decided to just take everything off, and had a double mastectomy."