Canadian researchers track Angelina effect on cancer gene screening

Posted By on September 4, 2014

Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt attend the world premiere of World War Z at on June 2, 2013 in London, England. GETTY IMAGES/Karwai Tang

Its being called the Angelina effect.

Angelina Jolies stunning revelation she had a preventative double mastectomy due to a genetic cancer risk has doubled the number of high risk women considering genetic testing to see if they carry certain genes linked to breast and ovarian cancers, new Canadian research suggests.

Doctors from the cancer centre at Torontos Sunnybrook Hospital presented their findings in San Francisco on Tuesday at the American Society of Clinical Oncology Breast Cancer Symposium.

The Angelina effect seemed to increase the awareness and the referral for women who were truly at high risk for hereditary breast cancer, said Dr. Andrea Eisen, one of the studys authors and head of the Familial Cancer Program at Sunnybrook.

Its not just worried women who came in, or those who have moderate or low risk it was really high risk women who perhaps were concerned before about pursuing genetic counselling or genetic testing, but who somehow seemed to have felt reassured or encouraged by this story and came forward for assessment.

Jolie made international headlines in May 2013 with an op-ed in the New York Times which detailed her familys history of breast and ovarian cancer, with the Oscar-winning actress noting that she had tested positive for the BRCA1 gene mutation.

She said her doctors estimated that she had a 50 per cent risk of getting ovarian cancer and an 87 per cent risk of breast cancer. After removing her breasts and reconstructing them with implants, she said her likelihood of developing breast cancer dropped to five per cent.

BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes are known as tumour suppressor genes that make proteins to repair DNA and suppress the grown of cancer.

Having a mutation in either of the BRCA genes leads to an elevated risk of breast and ovarian cancers. Certain ethnic groups, among them Ashkenazi Jews, have a higher prevalence of these genetic mutations.

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Canadian researchers track Angelina effect on cancer gene screening

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