Like Angelina Jolie, 30-year-old Kirstin Ettengoff of Miami recently made a medical choice that has given her peace of mind. She discussed the double mastectomy with immediate reconstruction that she underwent Aug. 1. Dr. Robert Derhagopian of Baptist Health Breast Center spoke about genes and breast cancer.
Like Angelina Jolie, 30-year-old Kirstin Ettengoff of Miami recently made a medical choice that has given her peace of mind.
"About 4 years ago my mom at the age of 58 was diagnosed with breast cancer and during her process, her physician recommended to get tested for the BRCA gene. She tested positive," Ettengoff said.
Then she and her sister were both tested and only Kirstin came back positive for the BRCA 2 gene mutation.
"I decided to go ahead with the surgery because I didn't ever want to go through what my mom went through, or in the future for my children or family members to have to deal with what my mom went through," she said.
On Aug. 1, she underwent a double mastectomy with immediate reconstruction at South Miami hospital. As a result, her risk for breast cancer was dramatically reduced.
"My risk of getting breast cancer is about 85 percent, and now it's less than 5 percent," said Ettengoff.
Doctors expect more women will request being tested for BRCA genes because of Jolie's disclosure that she's a carrier and recently had a double mastectomy. However, it's not something that is routinely advised.
"Most women who have breast cancer, they don't have the gene. Most women get breast cancer just sporadically. We usually recommend genetic testing in women with a strong family history of breast or ovarian cancer," said Dr. Robert Derhagopian of Baptist Health Breast Center.
That was the case for Jolie, whose mother died of ovarian cancer. Jolie wrote in a New York Times editorial: "Once I knew this was my reality, I decided to be proactive and to minimize the risk as much as I could."
Ettengoff is appreciative Jolie is using her celebrity status to inform and empower other women.
"It's also allowed me a little, but to feel more justified more confident in the decision that I made," said Ettengoff.
She's had two surgical procedures and said it wasn't easy but has not regrets.