Angelina Jolie-effect? Star's double mastectomy likely to make some with gene pause, expert says

(CBS News) Will there be a rise in double mastectomy surgeries - an Angelina Jolie-effect - following the star's decision to reveal that she underwent the surgery?

It's unlikely in the general population, but it's expected that her decision will make women who have the gene rethink their stance on the surgery, according to Dr. Elisa Port, co-director of the Dubin Breast Center at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York.

Angelina Jolie: I had preventive double mastectomy

"The whole concept of running out to get tested really doesn't apply to most women other than those for whom they have a very, very strong family history of breast or ovarian cancer," Port said on "CBS This Morning." "... For the group of women who have tested positive (for this gene mutation) and who are on the fence about what to do and when to do it, it may push them to do that."

Among the women who do test positive for the "faulty" gene - either BRCA1 or BRCA2 - just about half choose to undergo the surgery, Port said.

Jolie wrote in a New York Times op-ed column that she decided to go forward with the procedure to reduce her breast-cancer risk because she has carries a "faulty" BRCA1 gene. Jolie's mother died of breast cancer at age 56, and Jolie said her doctors told her she had an 87 percent risk of getting breast cancer.

The options for women for testing and for those who have tested positive for BRCA1 or BRCA2 are limited, Port said. "There really is very few options for prevention of breast cancer, so either women decide to have this very, very life-changing surgery in some ways or they opt for surveillance," she said.

Port said she finds it remarkable Jolie decided to go forward with the surgery.

"This happens in my office all the time in privacy, but it shows us how far reconstructive options have come," she said. "That a woman, who clearly makes her living off of her looks and her talent and so forth, is willing to do this kind of thing for life-saving measures, knowing that she's going to get a very reasonable cosmetic result."

And while there aren't many options for women who have the gene mutation, the options for reconstructing breasts are numerous, Port said.

"It's done with implants. It's done with taking one's own tissue, typically from the abdomen, and transferring it up to the area of the chest and building the breast with one's own tissue," she explained. "Plastic surgeons have gotten tremendously sophisticated in terms of we have lots of options of where to make the incision, to make it less prominent. We have lots of options of saving the nipple, not saving the nipple. These are all individualized on a case-by-case basis to give her the best result."

For more with Port, watch her full interview in the video above.

  • Amanda Cochran

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