The brave step of Angelina Jolie to not just undergo a mastectomy but also come out publicly about it has highlighted the very grave danger of breast cancer for women, and the importance for them to get regularly checked out and take every step possible to limit their chances of suffering from the potentially fatal ailment.

The New York Times reports that Jolie’s condition was a defective version of a gene called BRCA1, which is not common. Mutations in that gene and another called BRCA2 apparently cause only 5% to 10% of breast cancers and 10% to 15% of ovarian cancers among white women in the United States. The troubling stats come next however; women who carry these mutations have, on average, about a 65% risk of developing breast cancer, which contrasts with a risk of about 12% for most women. In the case of Jolie her risk was even higher, with the actor revealing that the risk rate she had was 87%. There’s history of breast cancer in Jolie’s family too, with her mother passing away from the illness.

Jolie also suffered a 50% risk of ovarian cancer and said “I started with the breasts, as my risk of breast cancer is higher than my risk of ovarian cancer, and the surgery is more complex.”

Angelina Jolie
Angelina Jolie went under the knife to prevent breast cancer