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Angelina Jolie's Preventative Mastectomy: Six Celebrities Who Have Undergone Surgery to Lower Their Risk of Cancer

Update Date: May 15, 2013 03:03 PM EDT
jolie, breast
(Photo : Mario Anzuoni/Reuters)

Yesterday, actress Angelina Jolie came forward with a confession that startled many people: earlier this year, she had chosen to undergo a double mastectomy to remove her breasts, and is planning on having another surgery to remove her ovaries. Having lost her mother from cancer, Jolie wrote in a New York Times op-ed that she had "a [faulty] gene, BRCA1". The gene elevated her risk of cancer; doctors said that she had an 87 percent risk of breast cancer and a 50 percent risk of ovarian cancer. With the surgery, her risk is now down below 5 percent. Such tests have become increasingly common, and women who have mutated BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes may choose to have preventative mastectomies, as Jolie has done, or to choose careful monitoring of their organs. However, though the actress may arguably be the most high-profile person to come forward with, she is not the only celebrity to undergo such a surgery due to the discovery of a faulty BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene.

Sharon Osbourne

Reuters/Fred Prouser
Reuters/Fred Prouser

Sharon Osbourne, the wife of rocker Ozzy Osbourne, announced late last year that she had a double mastectomy. She had discovered that she had a gene that elevated her risk of breast cancer. Ms. Osbourne had been diagnosed with colon cancer in 2002.

Allyn Rose

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Miss DC Allyn Rose announced before the Miss America competition that she would undergo a double mastectomy. The 24-year-old said that she received hate mail for her decision, but the disease killed her mother, grandmother and great aunt. Her mother was first diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 27.

Christina Applegate 

Reuters/Mario Anzuoni
Reuters/Mario Anzuoni

Christina Applegate was diagnosed with breast cancer in one breast. However, after receiving word that she had a faulty BRCA1 gene, the Up All Night actress decided to undergo a double mastectomy. She said that her decision was influenced by the fact that her mother suffered from breast cancer and cervical cancer.

Kara DioGuardi

Reuters/Fred Prouser
Reuters/Fred Prouser

Kara DioGuardi is a songwriter, producer, executive and appeared for some time as a host on the hit reality competition show American Idol. DioGuardi's mutated BRCA2 gene elevated her risk of breast cancer to 80 percent and her risk of ovarian cancer to 30 percent. As a result, she underwent surgery to remove her fallopian tubes, ovaries and uterus.

Barbara Walters

Reuters/Lucas Jackson
Reuters/Lucas Jackson

Television personality and newswoman Barbara Walters announced to her co-hosts on The View that she had her ovaries removed in order to eliminate her risk of suffering from ovarian cancer. She did not mention whether genetic tests influenced her decision.

Wanda Sykes

Reuters/Jason Redmond
Reuters/Jason Redmond

Comedian Wanda Sykes announced in 2011 that she had undergone a double mastectomy. Though she did not say whether she had mutations in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene, she did say that the cancer runs in her mother's side of the family. She also said that doctors had found a ductal carcinoma in situ, which is considered by some to be an early-stage cancer.

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