In this opinion piece, H. Gilbert Welch, professor of medicine at the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice, writes about actress and director Angelina Jolie’s decision to undergo a double mastectomy in an effort to prevent breast cancer. Jolie has the genetic mutation BRCA1, which Welch says can increase the chance of breast cancer five-fold.
But Welch writes that “99 percent of women do not have the BRCA1 mutation,” and that he hopes Jolie’s decision does not influence women with less risk to undergo the operation.
“Patients with severe abnormalities stand to gain more from intervention than patients with mild ones,” writes Welch. “Patients with mild abnormalities are more likely to experience net harm from intervention, simply because they have less opportunity to benefit.”
Read the full story, published 5/18/13 by CNN.