Angelina Jolie revealed Tuesday she recently underwent a procedure to remove her fallopian tubes and ovaries after a cancer scare.
The 39-year-old actress disclosed in a New York Times op-ed that she received a call from her doctor two weeks ago informing her that a test result showed markers that could be a sign of cancer.
"There are a number of inflammatory markers that are elevated, and taken together they could be a sign of early cancer," her doctor told her. "CA-125 [a blood test] has a 50 to 75 percent chance of missing ovarian cancer at early stages."
Jolie said she was told to see a surgeon immediately to have her ovaries checked.
"I went through what I imagine thousands of other women have felt," she wrote. "I told myself to stay calm, to be strong, and that I had no reason to think I wouldn't live to see my children grow up and to meet my grandchildren."
Jolie then called her husband, actor Brad Pitt, who was in France, with the news. He quickly boarded a plane to be with her.
Later that day, she went to see a surgeon — the same one who treated her mother, Marcheline — for an examination. Five nerve-racking days later, she received the results of a scan and tumor test: negative.
"I was full of happiness, although the radioactive tracer meant I couldn't hug my children," she wrote. "There was still a chance of early stage cancer, but that was minor compared with a full-blown tumor. To my relief, I still had the option of removing my ovaries and fallopian tubes and I chose to do it."
Last week, she underwent a procedure called laparoscopic bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy. Doctors found "a small benign tumor on one ovary, but no signs of cancer in any of the tissues," she said.
Doctors had encouraged Jolie to have preventative surgery about a decade before the earliest onset of cancer in her female relatives, she said in the Times. "My mother's ovarian cancer was diagnosed when she was 49. I'm 39."
Jolie is a carrier of the BRCA1 gene, which puts her at a high risk of breast and ovarian cancer, and is related to three women who have died from cancer.
Two years ago, Jolie also wrote in the Times about her double mastectomy in order to reduce her risk of cancer. She planned to have her fallopian tubes and ovaries removed as a follow-up procedure.
Jolie, a mother of six, said she is now in menopause and will not be able to have any more children. She has adopted three children and given birth to three others, including twins, with Pitt.
"I feel deeply for women for whom this moment comes very early in life, before they have had their children," she said. "Their situation is far harder than mine. I inquired and found out that there are options for women to remove their fallopian tubes but keep their ovaries, and so retain the ability to bear children and not go into menopause. I hope they can be aware of that."
Michelle Broder Van Dyke is a reporter and night editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in Hawaii.
Contact Michelle Broder Van Dyke at email@example.com.
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