(CNN) — Actress Angelina Jolie announced in a New York Times op-ed article on Tuesday that she underwent a preventive double mastectomy after learning she carries a mutation of the BRCA1 gene, which sharply increases her risk of developing breast cancer and ovarian cancer.
“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,” Jolie wrote. “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.”
Jolie’s mother, actress and producer Marcheline Bertrand, died of ovarian cancer in 2007 at the age of 56. Jolie is 37 years old.
In the Times op-ed, titled “My Medical Choice,” Jolie said she finished three months of medical procedures at the Pink Lotus Breast Center in California on April 27 that included the mastectomies and reconstruction.
A mastectomy is an operation that removes all or part of the breast.
“I wanted to write this to tell other women that the decision to have a mastectomy was not easy. But it is one I am very happy that I made,” Jolie wrote. “My chances of developing breast cancer have dropped from 87 percent to under 5 percent.”
BRCA stands for breast cancer susceptibility genes — a class of genes known as tumor suppressors, according to the National Cancer Institute.
Mutation of the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes has been linked to hereditary breast and ovarian cancer. A blood test can determine if a woman is “highly susceptible” to the cancers.