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Angelina Jolie working to make cancer gene testing more widely available

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Jun 17, 2013 | 12:02pm EDT

Angelina Jolie is making it her mission to make testing for the gene mutation which can cause breast and ovarian cancer accessible for women across the world after going public with her double mastectomy news earlier this year (13). The Hollywood beauty stunned fans in May (13) when she opened up about her recent health crisis, revealing that she went under the knife for the preventative surgery in February (13) after learning she was a carrier of the 'faulty' BRCA1 gene, which doctors estimated gave her an 87 per cent chance of developing breast cancer. She subsequently had reconstructive surgery to regain her curvy figure and has since made a full recovery, returning to the red carpet at the London premiere of her fiance Brad Pitt's new film, World War Z, earlier this month (Jun13). Now Pitt claims Jolie wants to work with medical professionals to lower the cost of the gene testing so more females can make the same critical decision about their futures. During an appearance on breakfast show Good Morning America on Monday (17Jun13), he insisted it was "business as usual" for Jolie, and admitted that the couple has been pleasantly surprised by the public's reaction to the news of her double mastectomy. He said, "When she wrote her piece, we had already come out the other end and we're feeling really good about it. We're really surprised and moved by how many people are dealing with the same issue, or wondering about the same issue. "Her idea was that if someone could learn from her story, then she would love to share that. But it's just been a beautiful thing to watch and her focus now is that all people have access to the testing and know what they can do about it. And she has certainly shown if you do your research and make your decision, what's best for you, it doesn't have to be a scary thing; it can be an empowering thing." Pitt's comments come just days after officials in America's Supreme Court ruled that all natural human genes, including BRCA, could not be patented. The decision means that experts at Myriad Genetics, which obtained a patent for the cancer genes in the late 1990s, can no longer prevent testing for the mutations in medical centres other than its own, paving the way for more widespread access to the tests and at a potentially lower cost.

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