Breast Cancer Prevention: Angelina Jolie and US Health Care

Around 1981, one of my aunts, a pediatrician and physiatrist who is now retired, had a prophylactic bilateral mastectomy, after a second of her four sisters was found to have breast cancer.

Now Angelina Jolie has announced that she decided to do the same, due to having the BRCA1 gene. The autosomal dominant BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes cause a 60 percent risk of breast cancer and also increase the risk of other cancers. See this link from the National Cancer Institute.

What do Angelina Jolie and my aunt (whose name rhymes with Angelina's) have in common as well? They were able to afford surgery that their insurance did not pay for. Currently, Medicare will not cover even the DNA test for BRCA1, much less the prophylactic double mastectomy and the cosmetic bilateral breast implants.

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