A breast cancer specialist from Truro is urging calm amongst women in Cornwall following the news that film star Angelina Jolie is to have her breasts removed in a double mastectomy.
Angelina Jolie, often thought of as the most beautiful woman in the world, is to undergo preventative surgery after tests showed she is at high risk of developing breast cancer.
Duncan Wheatley, consultant oncologist at the Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro said he previously saw a massive increase in the number of women concerned they may have breast cancer after it emerged that pop superstar Kylie Minogue was undergoing treatment.
Dr Wheatley said: “With Kylie Minogue we had 13 times more people being referred to the hospital thinking they had breast cancer. There was a massive increase in referrals.”
The consultant said Miss Jolie’s case was very rare and that amongst breast cancer patients, less than one per cent of cases would have been caused by the type of genetic mutation she has.
Dr Wheatley said: “People think Angelina Jolie is getting her breasts removed so they should get checked as well. What we don’t want is a string of people wanting to have genetic tests.”
The Royal Cornwall Hospital does provide genetic testing where there is a strong family history of cancer. Dr Wheatley said preventative surgery of this kind was carried out in a few cases every year in Cornwall.
He said: “It’s like looking at War and Peace for a spelling mistake. If we find an abnormality then, together with looking at the family history we can give a percentage risk.
“It’s a really tricky decision but if you have been swayed by seeing your mum or sister go through horrible things you may want to have surgery.”