Angelina Jolie’s Double Mastectomy: What You Need to Know About the Breast Cancer Gene & Family Planning

angeline_jolieAngelina Jolie’s preventative double mastectomy not only creates awareness about genetic predisposition to disease, but also asks the question – can couples prevent carrying down genetic disorders to their children, and what options do women have to preserve their fertility during a breast cancer diagnosis? Fertility treatment services such as preimplantation genetic diagnosis offers couples the option to screen embryos for genetic disease such as the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes prior to IVF, while egg freezing allows women to preserve their future fertility

Angelina Jolie’s Double Mastectomy: What You Need to Know About the Breast Cancer Gene & Family Planning

Fertility Centers of Illinois discusses genetic screening for breast cancer and fertility preservation during a breast cancer diagnosis

After learning she had an 87 percent risk of breast cancer due to a genetic predisposition through the BRCA1 gene, Angelina Jolie made the decision to undergo a preventative double mastectomy, lessening her risk to five percent.

Angelina’s decision shines the spotlight on genetic predisposition to disease, and what wo


men can do to lessen risk. For women at risk for breast cancer or newly diagnosed, it is important to know the options available to grow a healthy family and preserve future fertility.

Preimplantation genetic diagnosis is a cutting-edge technology that screens embryos for genetic disease. For those predisposed to cancer or other genetic abnormalities, this option allows couples to select the healthiest embryos during in-vitro fertilization treatment. Genetic screening can detect the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, as well as several other specific genetic disorders.

Egg vitrification allows women diagnosed with breast cancer to preserve their future fertility by freezing eggs. After cancer treatment when a woman is ready for a family, she can use her eggs to create embryos and carry a baby. For those with hormone sensitive breast cancer diagnoses, they may choose to have a surrogate carry the baby to assist in preventing a recurrent cancer diagnosis.

“It is of paramount importance that couples and women know what family planning options are available when breast cancer is involved,” says Dr. Angeline Beltsos of Fertility Centers of Illinois. “Couples have the option to prevent genetic disease from being carried down the family bloodline. For women battling cancer, the devastation of losing the ability to have children in the future can be prevented by egg freezing for fertility preservation.”