The Angelina Effect … on breasts.

God forbid that any of us here at Houston Moms Blog or any of you reading this right now will ever have to hear the words “breast cancer” as part of your medical history, but according to statistics, the odds are not in our favor.  Breast cancer is the leading cause of female cancer and the main cause of death in women ages 20 to 59 here in the United States.*  For those women with genetic makeup containing the BRCA 1 or BRCA 2 genes, there is approximately a 50% to 70% risk for breast cancer.**

So it’s not surprising that, after learning the stats, some women decide to take a more proactive approach and elect to undergo double mastectomies in hopes of preventing breast cancer.  Many of us watched as Angelina Jolie shared her story and opted for a preemptive double mastectomy. Jolie underwent the double mastectomy and breast reconstruction after learning she carried a gene that put her in the category of women who are at high risk of developing breast cancer.

Tiffanie_Stock2So how does that affect all of us?  Well…we’ve just wrapped up the fourth annual Breast Reconstruction Awareness {BRA} Day, and it’s safe to say that the yearly international events are helping to increase understanding of the post-mastectomy options women have.  Believe it or not, the decision whether to have a mastectomy or not is NOT the only decision that women with risk of breast cancer have to make.  There are a series of big decisions to make — and breast reconstruction is one of them.  Women now have so many options for breast reconstruction, and the “Angelina Effect” is helping to raise awareness of them.

It’s no doubt that celebrities obviously influence the public’s shifting tastes in fashion and lifestyle trends. But the impact Jolie’s announcement had on the public’s understanding of a critical healthcare issue that affects thousands of women annually may be unprecedented.

Consider some of these findings from a recent study ::

  • About 89% of the women surveyed before Jolie’s announcement said they were aware in general about breast reconstructive surgery.  This number increased to 92.5% in the second survey.
  • Awareness of breast reconstruction options, however, increased much more significantly; nearly 70% of women in the second survey said they were aware that a patient’s own tissue {rather than breast implants} could be used for reconstruction, an increase of 12%.
  • Nearly 20% of the women surveyed after Jolie’s announcement said the media coverage affected their interest in breast cancer.
  • Probably the most significant finding from the two surveys, however, was the increased number of women who were aware that breast reconstruction surgery can be done immediately after the breast removal procedure. Before Jolie’s announcement, only 40% said they knew that was an option. In the second survey, 60% said they were aware of the choice, called immediate breast reconstruction procedures.
  • Women in the second survey were also asked if they would choose breast reconstruction using their own skin and tissue or using breast implants. Two-thirds said their own tissue, called autologous flap breast reconstruction, compared with 8% preferring implants. Another 25% said they didn’t have a preference.

Did YOU know about all of these options?

“Many women prefer using their own tissue and skin to recreate their breast after a mastectomy,” according to our sponsors at Houston Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery, where Dr. Kendall Roehl specializes in microsurgery and breast reconstruction here in Houston. “For some women, the idea of breast implants is undesirable, and they feel that a flap procedure will produce a more natural result.”


So what does the “Angelina Effect” say about public awareness campaigns such as BRA Day? The takeaway is that these designated days help sustain interest in the issue of breast reconstruction, gradually promote awareness, and that these organizations remain ready to mobilize when an event or celebrity statement sparks a burst of media coverage. That was actually one of the conclusions of the research too.

“The results underscore the importance of a media-related impact for professionals in the health care sector, which can serve as a tipping point for raising awareness and improving knowledge concerning a specific disease among the general public.”

For breast reconstruction awareness, that tipping point occurred with Angelina Jolie’s announcement.

*source :: UpToDate

Please Note :: While this may be a sponsored post, we are so grateful to Houston Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery for sharing this valuable information and for their dedication to raising awareness about breast cancer and empowering women with all of their options.


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