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Chat Replay: How common is Angelina Jolie's 'breast cancer gene'?

Categories: Community, World

Hollywood actress Angelina Jolie is seen during a 2012 visit to Turkey as a special envoy for the U.N. refugee agency. (Umit Bektas/Associated Press)

News that actress Angelina Jolie has had a preventive double mastectomy has garnered much attention in the media and among online observers - but Jolie stresses that she's speaking out so other women can look into whether they "might be living under the shadow of cancer."

Jolie decided to have the surgery after learning she carried BRCA1, a "faulty" gene that made it extremely likely she would get breast cancer.

More specifically, doctors estimated she had an 87 per cent risk - a number that Jolie, a woman who lost her own mother to cancer, could not live with.

"Once I knew that this was my reality, I decided to be proactive and to minimize the risk as much I could," she wrote in an op-ed piece for the New York Times.

"But I am writing about it now because I hope that other women can benefit from my experience."

Jolie's piece raises questions

Many are now seeking more detail about points raised in Jolie's piece - like the possibility of assessing one's own risk with a simple blood test, and seeing cancer as something that can be proactively prevented by non-celebrities, too.

Indeed, many ordinary women - less likely to make international headlines for their bravery - have shared their stories.

Women like Winnipegger Myla Meyer, who underwent a double mastectomy last year; and Susan Goldberg of Thunder Bay, Ont., who ">also carried a genetic mutation that made her susceptible to the disease.

This week on CBC Live Online, host Lauren O'Neil spoke to a panel of guests with special insight into preventative breast cancer surgeries about some of the questions raised in Angelina Jolie's op-ed "My Medical Choice."

How common is the gene mutation that Jolie has? Are the procedures she described covered across Canada? Is it really a good idea to remove your breasts to decrease the chances you'll breast cancer?

Replay the live chat below to learn more:

Tags: CBC Live Online, Community, Health, World

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