By Tim Locke
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Keith Barnard, MD
March 24, 2015 -- Actress Angelina Jolie has had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to reduce her risk of ovarian cancer, she said.
The 39-year-old's decision was made 2 years after she had a double mastectomy because she carries genes that increase her risk of breast cancer.
Jolie wrote about her decision in the New York Times. She explains how having the BRCA1 gene gave her around an 87% risk of breast cancer and a 50% risk of ovarian cancer. Her mother, grandmother and aunt died of cancer.
"I wanted other women at risk to know about the options," she wrote. "I promised to follow up with any information that could be useful, including about my next preventive surgery, the removal of my ovaries and fallopian tubes."
The operation means she has begun menopause and won't be able to have any more children. She says she "feels deeply" for women who have to make the same decision before they've had a family. Jolie and her husband, actor Brad Pitt, have three biological children and three adopted children.
She'd been planning to have the operation for some time, but 2 weeks ago doctors told her there had been some abnormal blood test results.
Further tests showed she didn't have ovarian cancer, but she decided to have the surgery to reduce the risk of it developing.
"There is more than one way to deal with any health issue, she wrote. "The most important thing is to learn about the options and choose what is right for you personally."
"It is not possible to remove all risk, and the fact is I remain prone to cancer."
She concluded: "It is not easy to make these decisions. But it is possible to take control and tackle head-on any health issue."
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
SOURCES: New York Times: "Angelina Jolie Pitt: Diary of a Surgery." Hollywood Reporter: "Angelina Jolie Reveals She Had Ovaries Removed, Cannot Have More Children."
©2015 WebMD, LLC. All Rights Reserved.