Actress Angelina Jolie announced in a New York Times op-ed article on Tuesday that she underwent a preventive double mastectomy after learning she carries the BRCA1 gene, which sharply increases her risk of developing breast cancer and ovarian cancer.
"My doctors estimated that I had an 87 percent risk of breast cancer and a 50 percent risk of ovarian cancer, although the risk is different in the case of each woman," Jolie wrote. "Once I knew that this was my reality, I decided to be proactive and to minimize the risk as much I could. I made a decision to have a preventive double mastectomy."
Jolie's mother, actress and producer Marcheline Bertrand, died of ovarian cancer in 2007 at the age of 56.
In the Times op-ed, titled "My Medical Choice," Jolie said she finished three months of medical procedures on April 27 that included the mastectomies and reconstruction.
"I wanted to write this to tell other women that the decision to have a mastectomy was not easy. But it is one I am very happy that I made," Jolie wrote. "My chances of developing breast cancer have dropped from 87 percent to under 5 percent.
"I can tell my children that they don't need to fear they will lose me to breast cancer," she said.
Jolie may be best known for title role in the "Laura Croft" series of films, but also won an Academy Award as best supporting actress in "Girl, Interrupted." She also received a Golden Globe Award and SAG Award for the same role.
Jolie serves as a special enjoy for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and has visited refugee camps around the world.
The actress has been in a relationship with actor Brad Pitt since the mid 2000s and are engaged. The couple has three biological and three adopted children.