Angelina Jolie tells of undergoing a radical procedure, a “preventive double mastectomy,” to remove all her healthy breast tissue, so as to mitigate against the possibility of future disease. Jolie carries the “‘faulty’ gene, BRCA1, which sharply increases [the] risk of developing breast cancer and ovarian cancer.” She writes:
My doctors estimated that I had an 87 percent risk of breast cancer and a 50 percent risk of ovarian cancer, although the risk is different in the case of each woman.
Only a fraction of breast cancers result from an inherited gene mutation. Those with a defect in BRCA1 have a 65 percent risk of getting it, on average.
Once I knew that this was my reality, I decided to be proactive and to minimize the risk as much I could. I made a decision to have a preventive double mastectomy. I started with the breasts, as my risk of breast cancer is higher than my risk of ovarian cancer …
In response to an earlier spate of such surgeries, Karen de Coster spoke out against “Big Pharma and a medical establishment that has … [built up] a tremendous level of hysteria that has people lining up for quick solutions to complex problems that have yet to materialize.”
Karen recommended “following the money trail”:
… this has nothing to do with a noble choice between life and “beauty.” Allyn, like so many other women, was frightened into this procedure by the medical establishment that has so much to gain from these costly interventions that insurance companies agree to cover. Yet, try getting your insurance company to cover $500 worth of acupuncture or non-standard physical therapy. The government’s cancer institute gently promotes this procedure, as well as the satellites of Big Cancer.
And back in 2009, Karen panned the “truly sick development of the modern medical state. Women who are told they are at-risk for breast cancer choose major, invasive surgery, based on these risk conclusions, when they are perfectly healthy”:
Cancer organizations recommend genetic counseling before and after the test, produced by Utah-based Myriad Genetics. During the past 13 years, the company has tested thousands of blood samples, and revenues have grown 50 percent in the last year, though the company declined to reveal details about the number of tests taken each year.
Myriad is the sole source of the test, for which it holds a gene patent — a controversial issue that is being challenged in federal court in New York by numerous medical groups, including the American Medical Association, which argue that granting a patent for a part of the human body impedes research and treatment.
So there is one company that can conduct the test, and it holds a patent to keep out competition?
These are poignant questions.