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The 'Angelina Jolie Effect' One Year On

One year ago today, actress Angelina Jolie publicly announced that she had undergone a double mastectomy as she carries the BRCA gene mutation. In the three days that followed, BreastScreen Victoria received 5148 calls to the call centre which resulted in 4888 bookings. This is an additional 2142 calls more than usual, and an extra 1901 bookings.

When well-known and much loved women discuss breast cancer, their comments have a dramatic impact on other women who may put off having a regular mammogram. BreastScreen Victoria thanks Angelina for her brave decision to talk about her experience openly and encourage others to prioritise their health for themselves and their families.

The personal situation Angelina went through is faced by less than 10 per cent of women. In fact, recent analysis of breast screen data throughout the program’s 20 year history revealed that 72 per cent of women diagnosed through BreastScreen Victoria had no family history.

According to BreastScreen Victoria CEO Vicki Pridmore, “It’s critical that all women, no matter our age, look after our breast health, but the specific actions you take should differ depending on your age”.

  • For women aged up to 44, it is important to get to know the look and feel of your own breasts, and to see your doctor immediately if you notice any changes.
  • For women aged 45-49, it is also important to be vigilant about knowing your breasts, and to discuss options with your GP, including whether or not to have a breast screen.
  • For women aged 50-74, you should have a breast screen every two years.
  • For women aged over 75, you should discuss your overall health management plan with your doctor, which could include breast screening.

For further information about BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes visit the National Cancer Institute and Cancer Council Australia.