One in two women say they would undergo a preventive double mastectomy if tests indicated they were at a high risk of breast cancer
On Tuesday, Hollywood actress Angelina Jolie announced in a widely reported editorial for the New York Times titled “My Medical Choice” that she had undergone a double mastectomy as a preventive measure against breast cancer. Jolie said that doctors estimated that she “had an 87 percent risk of breast cancer and a 50 percent risk of ovarian cancer” due to a “faulty” gene, BRCA1, which increases cancer risk.
A new YouGov poll finds that 1 in 2 women in the US would have a double mastectomy if genetic tests suggested they had a very high chance of developing breast cancer.
The YouGov survey also found that in identical proportions American women and men would undergo preventive surgery if tests suggested they were at a very high risk of a particular cancer. 51% of Americans say they would in principle undergo surgery to prevent the development of a cancer if tests suggested there was a very high chance of it developing, including 50% of men and 51% of women.
Asked if they would have genetic tests to screen for susceptibility towards particular types of cancer, 34% of Americans say they would. This number was higher among those with a family history of cancer (41%) and lower among those without (28%).
22% of Americans also said they are worried they are genetically predisposed to a certain kind of cancer and 4% have already taken a genetic screening test to see if they are.
The results of the survey differ significantly from one undertaken in Britain this week. 7 in 10 British adults would be willing to undergo preventive surgery to reduce the likelihood of developing cancer as opposed to 5 in 10 American adults. Furthermore, 64% of Britons would like to take a genetic test to screen for susceptibility to cancer, while only 34% of Americans would.
According to the American Cancer Society, it is estimated that around 580,350 Americans will die of cancer in 2013, and around 40,300 of those will be from breast cancer.
Full results can be found here.