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Angelina Jolie Pitt Has Ovaries Removed, Citing Cancer Fears

Actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie Pitt says she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer.

Writing in The New York Times, Jolie Pitt, 39, who had a preventive double mastectomy two years ago, said she carried a mutation in a gene that gave her an "estimated 87 percent risk of breast cancer and a 50 percent risk of ovarian cancer." Both her mother and grandmother died of cancer, she said.

"It is not easy to make these decisions," she wrote. "But it is possible to take control and tackle head-on any health issue."

Jolie Pitt wrote that she had planned to have the procedure for some time, but her doctor called her two weeks ago with results from a blood test. She said he told her that there were some "inflammatory markers that are elevated, and taken together they could be a sign of early cancer." An ultrasound examination revealed nothing. She wrote:

"I was relieved that if it was cancer, it was most likely in the early stages. If it was somewhere else in my body, I would know in five days. I passed those five days in a haze, attending my children's soccer game, and working to stay calm and focused.

"The day of the results came. The PET/CT scan looked clear, and the tumor test was negative. I was full of happiness, although the radioactive tracer meant I couldn't hug my children. There was still a chance of early stage cancer, but that was minor compared with a full-blown tumor. To my relief, I still had the option of removing my ovaries and fallopian tubes and I chose to do it."

Jolie Pitt, a mother of six, said she had the laparoscopic bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy last week.

She said she made her decision public to help "other women at risk to know about the options." But she added:

"I did not do this solely because I carry the BRCA1 gene mutation, and I want other women to hear this. A positive BRCA test does not mean a leap to surgery. I have spoken to many doctors, surgeons and naturopaths. There are other options. Some women take birth control pills or rely on alternative medicines combined with frequent checks. There is more than one way to deal with any health issue. The most important thing is to learn about the options and choose what is right for you personally."

You can read the full piece here.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Krishnadev Calamur is NPR's deputy Washington editor. In this role, he helps oversee planning of the Washington desk's news coverage. He also edits NPR's Supreme Court coverage. Previously, Calamur was an editor and staff writer at The Atlantic. This is his second stint at NPR, having previously worked on NPR's website from 2008-15. Calamur received an M.A. in journalism from the University of Missouri.