Angelina Jolie's decision to go public on her recent double mastectomy was a brave one. After blood tests showed she carried the "faulty" BRCA1 gene and had an 87% chance of getting the disease, she decided to act. She penned an explanation of her actions this morning in a New York Times op-ed:
"Cancer is still a word that strikes fear into people’s hearts, producing a deep sense of powerlessness," she wrote. "But today it is possible to find out through a blood test whether you are highly susceptible to breast and ovarian cancer, and then take action."
A double mastectomy may seem like an extreme option in preventing breast cancer, but as technology to help identify one's risk improves, we may see more women make the same decision. In fact, we already are. In January, Miss America contestant Allyn Rose announced her plans to do the same. Like Jolie, cancer had claimed the lives of many of Rose's female family members.
In this particular area of medical research, innovation is everywhere, from bras that claim to identify cancerous cells to cancer-killing nanoparticle bullets. Others are using huge amounts of data to develop treatments and to raise awareness. And there is money to be made in developing such life-saving technologies.
Will we start seeing more women taking preventative action as new technologies allow them to do so? Is this a good thing? Let us know what you think in the comments.