The Angelina Effect on Breast Surgery


Back in May 2013, Angelina Jolie publicaly announced that she had undergone a double mastectomy surgery after she was tested positive for a mutation in the BRCA1 gene, which significantly increases the risk of breast cancer in the future.

She opted to undergo surgery in order to prevent her from getting breast cancer. Little did she known, by undergoing the surgery, she significantly rasied the public awareness of reconstructive breast surgery options.

According to a new study from the Medical University of Graz in Austria, after the announcment by Jolie, 92.6 precent of the women in the study said they knew that breast reconstruction was an option after a mastectomy, up from 88.9 percent who said the same in a poll that was done shortly before her announcement.

A second poll showed that the awareness of breast reconstruction could be done using a woman’s own fat tissue, as opposed to synthetic breast implants, increased  greatly. The polls were conducted before and after the announcment, and included 1, 000 Austrian women. In the “pre-announcment” poll, 57.6 precent of participants were aware of that, while the “post-announcment” poll shows that 68.9 precent of participants were aware of this possibility.

The largest increase observed by the researchers was women’s awareness that breast reconstruction surgery can be done during same operation as the breast-removal surgery. The first poll shows that 40.5 precent of participants were aware of this possibility, while the second poll shows that 59.5 precent of participants were aware that both surgery can be done at the same time. In addition, the study also found out that one-fifth of the participants from the second poll said that the media coverage of Jolie Pitt made them “deal more intensively with the topic of breast cancer.”

The study shows how much the media coverage of Jolie’s announcment made an impact on the general public about the awareness of different breast reconstruction options and breast cancer. The announcment of Jolie undergoing a double mastectomy surgery brought a lot of attention to the topic of breast cancer and different breast surgery.

As Dr. David Lumenta, an assistant professor of plastic surgery at the Medical University of Graz in Austria and lead researcher on the new study, said about the impact of media coverage on patients, “Since individual choice will become a driving force for patient-centered decision-making in the future, cancer specialists should be aware of public opinion when consulting patients with breast cancer.”

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