Hollywood actress Angelina Jolie has gone public about the removal of her ovaries after a cancer scare.
The 39-year-old actress, who carries a mutation in the BRCA1 gene, announced the same in a New York Times column printed on Tuesday.
The actress has been applauded by medical experts for 'going public', a bold decision that they believe could save millions of lives.
The announcement came nearly two years after the mother-of-six had a double mastectomy after hearing she had also inherited a high risk of breast cancer.
Jolie lost her mother to ovarian cancer at the age of 56. Her aunt and grandmother too had died of cancer.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 20,000 women get ovarian cancer and about 14,500 die from it every year in the United States.
Most women get ovarian cancer without being at high risk. However, there are several factors that may increase a woman's risk for ovarian cancer. These include -
Age: The risk of getting ovarian cancer is higher with the advancement of one's age. A woman's risk is even higher after age 60. About 50% of ovarian cancers are found in women over 60 years of age.
Family history: The risk is higher in women whose mother, sister, aunt, grandmother has/had ovarian cancer compared to women with no such family history. Increased risk can also come from father's side.
Also, a family history of breast or colon cancer has been attributed to an increased risk for developing ovarian cancer.
Gene: A woman has an increased risk for ovarian cancer if she has a genetic mutation (abnormality) called BRCA1 or BRCA2.
The risk for ovarian cancer is up to 65% higher in women with a BRCA1 mutation, and up to 35% higher in women with BRCA2 mutation.
Among the general population, the lifetime risk for development of ovarian cancer is less than 2%.
Childbearing: Women who have never given birth or have had trouble getting pregnant have a greater risk for developing ovarian cancer than women who have had children.
Also, women who began menstruating early (say before age 12), have no children or had their first child after age 30 and experienced menopause after age 50 have a higher risk for getting the disease than the general population.
Talc-based body powder use: Some studies suggest that women who regularly apply talcum powder on their genital area have a higher risk of development for ovarian cancer.
Medications: Research has shown that women who take hormone therapy after menopause may have a slightly increased risk for ovarian cancer.
On the other hand, women who have used birth control pills or oral contraceptives have a lower risk of ovarian cancer.
Obesity: Various studies have reported that obese women have a higher risk of developing ovarian cancer than women with normal weight. Studies also suggest that ovarian cancer risk may be increased in women with body mass index (BMI) above 28.