Angelina Jolie Takes Fight to Cancer

Citing cancer fears, Angelina Jolie revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes preemptively removed. ABC medical contributor Dr. Jennifer Ashton and TV personality Rene Syler weigh in on her decision.
13:20 | 03/24/15

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Transcript for Angelina Jolie Takes Fight to Cancer
Angelina Jolie taking matters into her own hands once again the Oscar winning actress who already underwent a double mastectomy. Says she has now had her ovaries and full locally and tubes removed in hopes of reducing her risk of cancer. Hi I'm Caroline Costello in New York. Here with more is ABC's Karen Travers Karen Julian revealed her latest Canner cancer preventing procedure in this English and went public with her double mastectomy two years ago was not. Right Karen seems to be Angelina Jolie's way an essay in the New York Times just how she did that nearly two years ago when she talked about her mastectomy. Did it with little fanfare it appeared online overnight she doesn't advertise it had a time that seems to be the way she wants to convey her message. And in that very personal essay she said. That recently she had surgery to remove her ovaries and fallopian tubes after a blunt has showed doctors. Potential signs of early ovarian cancer. Angelina Joseph lead with and other personal bombshell. In an essay published overnight in the New York Times the Oscar winner revealed she recently had surgery to remove her ovaries and fallopian tubes. After a blood tests detected potential signs of early ovarian cancer I went through what I imagine thousands of other women have felt. I told myself to stay calm to be strong. And then I had no reason to think I wouldn't live deceive my children grow up and to meet my grandchildren. Further tests came back negative for cancer. But the humanitarian and mother of six said surgery was her best option that's because she has an extensive family history of ovarian cancer her mother aunt and grandmother all died from the disease she wrote it is not possible to remove all risk and the fact is I remain prone to cancer experts say the key is to censure and on the full Opie and tubes where ovarian cancers thought to originate. By the time of surgery about five to 10% of women with this type of genetic mutation. We'll have a hidden for a called cancer present so it's important that that surgery is done proper. It's a straightforward procedure done through a tiny incision and completed in as little as fifteen minutes. Two years ago G Elise stunned the world when she revealed she had undergone a preventive double mastectomy. After testing positive for gene mutation that put her at a higher cancer risk. It's connected me so much to other families and women. Angelina Jolie closer essay by noting these are not easy decisions but knowledge is power Carol. All right Karen Travers thank you much for that we wondering now ABC's. Senior medical contributor doctor Jennifer Ashton as well as morning Siler TV personality and founder of good enough mother. Dot com who also underwent a preventative bilateral. Mastectomy. A Jennifer let's start with huge Elise and that she did not test positive for cancer but that she could have certain markers in her blood. That raised red flag exactly and that's what's confusing to so many women and to doctors alike you know we remember this the RCA mutation most people think of the increase risk for breast cancer. We have a screening test for breast cancer there is no screening test for ovarian cancer so that is. What we call in my specialty of gynecology the silent killer. Typically when ovarian cancer is detected whether it's by ultrasound or blood tests or by surgery. It is found added advanced stage where the survival or prognosis. Tends to be very poor and we also have to remember that blood tests like Angelina Jolie mentioned the C a 125. And a pelvic sonogram. They are not accepted screening test for ovarian cancer but we use them every day because it's all we have right now. Isn't rocket gene related to ovarian cancer as well as breast cancer it is exactly correct increases a woman's risk for both breast cancer as well as ovarian cancer and to put that into some numerical context the average woman has a late time risk of facing ovarian cancer just over 1%. With a bracket mutation that risks can be as high as 40%. And then when you have multiple first degree relatives or family members it can go even higher so we're talking about significant risks. And surgery has been conclusively proven to decrease the risk of death from ovarian cancer OK and Renee over you now like. Angelina you took matters into your own hands and had prophylactic prophylactic mastectomy as whale. Talk about what led you to make this very big personal decision. I'm the daughter not one but two breast cancer survivors and my mother and father had breast cancer. I was diagnosed with a precancerous condition and 2002. Are so big watching it inch. Kept reading every year it would have to have these editors have a mammogram and I would have. A biopsy. Every year so in four years and four biopsies. And you know I just was missing so much breast tissue they were the same location on the same breast. I was missing so much. Breast tissue and really what this team down to was uttered a quality of life decision I didn't want to live my life this way each. And a lot light. In the case of Angel Angel Lee I mean this is not a decision that was entered into lightly I'm really really struggled with this I talked to my family prayed about it a lot to get to that place and ultimately decided that that was and decision for me was to have the preventative mastectomy. And as a woman what are some of the things you struggle with what goes through your mind when you think about removing both of your breath as a preventive. Procedure. I think she. Does that's. This question a lot to what is your husband and I sit there my breast you know having each and honestly you wanna know I didn't struggle with anything because. It was an era. If a part of me was gone so that all of meat could be here and to you for my family. That's that was a no brainer. To me it was that decision for each and and now hearing him seven years out and I'm doing great. That brought or am I completely agree with that I hear that from so many women. Who have made the choice for risk productive surgery but I think we also need to be respectful. Of the women who choose not to have surgery we're talking about the Brack a mutation for ovarian cancer risk about 30% of women choose not to have surgery. That's their choice. I am respectful of that choice it's in May not be but I would choose as a woman in May not be what I would counsel my patients to choose. But we do have to respect that choice as well. But I think I think it's frustrate I just get this it is that it would first is that some people are making these wild accusations have all his opinion in my only thing is -- and it's my -- did what was right for me it's her she did what was right for her and just like like chicken Ashton just you know some people choose not to go that route. But be respectful everyone's decision and please be compassionate please. Absolutely I think Angelina Jolie made that point. In the op Ed that she wrote that. Her choices not necessarily for everyone that there are other options out there I don't talk about the double mastectomy and has an invasive procedure obviously. A lot more invasive then removing deal bear the early in the fallopian tubes. But in some ways removing the ovaries and the over in the fallopian tubes is a bigger deal because it. It causes early onset of menopause correct that causes a lot of physical changes that is absolutely on point the way you described it the mastectomy is much bigger operation recovery is much more intensive and extensive. And then if a woman she's detect breast reconstruction that can be months even up to a year of repeated operations. They've removal of tubes and ovaries is it seemed day procedure it's on laparoscopic three through tiny little incisions it can be done in fifteen minutes in trained experienced hands. However as you said it places a woman into immediate surgical menopause and about 75%. Of women. Will experience hot flashes and these symptoms he's menopausal symptoms should not be diminish the impact on a woman's quality of life. And so it should be part of the counseling process there are a range of good options for women today. Ranging from hormonal therapy to not hormonal therapy to even some. Alternative therapies like bee pollen extract. And there is treatment but this is a big decision just like a mastectomy is it's an individual decision. And I agree with Rene it should be up to the individual woman it's her body I want to ask you about that to you because I remember years ago when my mother was going through menopause she was afraid. To do the hormone replacement therapy hasn't come along way is it safe for now you know at the pendulum has swung all the way against and now is kind of coming slightly more back to mid line. What we know about hormone replacement therapy is it's not a one size fits all. They're is still not enough evidence that bio identical in safer or more unsafe than traditional therapy. It's a decision that every woman should discuss her own risks with her doctor but at a young age. Forty there are some real benefits to giving that woman hormonal replacement therapy to her bones to her overall health. And there are other options right OK and you know I it's. You can also put yourself at greater risk for other types of cancers if you don't do the more the hormone replacement therapy is that right well it's not that you risk other types of cancers we noted skeletal health bone health is very very important once you remove the source of estrogen from the ovaries if you do that let's say age forty and you of another forty to fifty years to live. Your osteoporosis is a real issue and it's a life threatening issue potentially down the road. And there are certain cancers that risk go down with hormone replacement therapy and some that are thought to go up so this is a decision that a woman should make with her doctor because it is not one size fits all really none of Madison is so that's the beauty of these options is that there is an option for every woman -- makes you think about how difficult the decision really is when you hear about all the things you have to consider ran and won askew. I had a year prevent surgery change your life. If at all do you think having high profile women like yourself and of course Angeline Jolie going public is making a difference is helping other women out there. Gosh I hope so honored you know I mean I had to I talked about this up from the beginning from Dutch. Time that I was having to genetic testing and by the way I didn't happen bracket gene. I did not have to genetic mutation but obviously something wasn't right since I was chatting. These problems. I do think that the more we talk about the Mort there's a dialogue about it honored that the closer we get to arm resolving having some some on some real answers about this you know I mean the fact is not everybody can afford. The surgery that she had. And or has insurance like I didn't. But we should all be able to have on the quality chaired assures us. Uncle a wonderful quality of life just is right why I did this was because I didn't want to. Have distinct hanging over my. And and that's the thing you asked what was different after my surgery a tremendous. Amount of relief that's what was different. Laugh huge weight off your shoulders I'm sure I want to ask you doctor just one last question. You know when -- things I've read about menopause is that it can cause early aging a woman's or rapid aging rather woman starts to age more rapidly and obviously for Angelina Jolie and they all women are concerned with aging but you know this is a beautiful woman makes her living. From being a beautiful woman that must be happening. Factor for her. Well no I think it's a factor for every one in and I want to bring in the non celebrity geeks so called average woman here that the fact of the matter is is that. Hundreds and thousands of women have walked in her issues have had this surgery they didn't make front page news they didn't make television news. They did bravely and stoically and courageously with the support of their friends and family just like she did. And they two more concerned with their appearance and we're living in an age where we all want to look you know twenty years old forever. That's not reality I think aging gracefully and teaching helpfully should be the goal. And you have to remember these operations like Renee is talking about lake removal of the ovaries and twos as Angelina Jolie had. This is to save someone's life. So when you talk about that vs a few wrinkles even you know the most vain woman and I think we'll say you know what. I choose life and the data is very clear removal of the tubes and ovaries saves women's lives if they have this bracket mutation and we have to remember this mutation affects man has wealth that's not just. A female issue absolutely I think Chile said that also it. In her op Ed that you know it it puts things in perspective it really makes you think about what matters and life half. Doctors and a fraction thank you so much earnings Tyler thank you for sharing your personal story with us. You can keep up with this story in real time my gallon in the ABC news app and storing the story for exclusive updates on the go. I'm talent can still in New York.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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