Angelina Jolie breast implantsAngelina Jolie, who had implants after her double mastectomy, went braless last week as she toured Hawaii while checking sites for a new movie she is going to direct. The actress proudly wore a low-cut top just five months after having both breasts removed because of cancer fears. The 38-year-old took the brave decision to have a mastectomy after discovering she had inherited the cancer gene that killed her mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. However, some rumours persisted that the decision was a well-orchestrated PR move to change public opinion about gene patents. Earlier, the BRCA gene test to detect breast cancer cost $4000 (an amount inaccessible to most people) since one company owned the rights to the gene. The US Supreme Court however, ruled that gene patenting was illegal which it’s believed will significantly bring down the cost by a whopping 75%. 

What is a double mastectomy?

A double mastectomy is a word used to broadly define the removal of some parts of the breasts. Usually performed for people suffering from cancer, it is  as a preventive measure for high risk patients. Depending on the type of cancer and its location the doctor may remove either the breast and the associated lymph nodes, the breast tissue, areola and nipples or the skin.  

There are various types of mastectomies, some of them are – modified radical mastectomy (where the entire breast, associate tissues, muscles and lymph nodes are removed), simple (total) mastectomy (where the entire breast is removed, but the lymph nodes are kept intact), skin-sparing mastectomy (where the entire breast tissue and associated structures are removed, but the skin is kept intact) and Nipple-sparing (subcutaneous) mastectomy (this is where the breast tissue is removed but the chest muscle, areola, and skin is kept intact). In both the skin-sparing mastectomy and nipple-sparing mastectomy reconstruction surgery immediately performed. For women who haven’t undergone breast reconstruction there’s a device called the mastectomy blouse to give the illusion of having breasts. 

What is breast cancer?

Breast cancer is a type of cancer originating from the breast tissues. Both men and women can be afflicted by it though it’s rarer in men. Along with cervical cancer it’s one of the most common types of cancer that afflicts women.  One of the major issues with breast cancer is that it is often not detected soon enough. This is due to low awareness about the disease. Detecting it early can significantly reduce the death risk. It is along with cervical cancer, the most common type of cancer among women in India. The problem is compounded by the fact that we’re a largely conservative society and it’s uncommon even for educated women to go to a doctor with a problem like a lump on her breast. This has led to a scenario where women don’t find out they have the disease until it’s too late.

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With inputs from ANI