Breast cancer specialist discusses options for women, following Angelina Jolie's double mastectomy

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by Tami Hoey

azfamily.com

Posted on May 14, 2013 at 12:08 PM

Updated Wednesday, May 15 at 3:35 PM

PHOENIX  -- Angelina Jolie's decision to remove both of her breasts because of a mutated gene has a lot of women talking this morning. The news has left some wondering if the procedure is something they should consider.

Jolie said that after genetic testing, she learned she carries the "faulty" BRCA1 gene and had an 87 percent chance of getting the disease herself.

On Tuesday's Good Morning Arizona, Yetta Gibson talked to a breast cancer specialist about the procedure. He calls Angelina's decision appropriate, in light of her risk for breast and ovarian cancer.

Dr. Robert Kuske of the Arizona Breast Cancer Specialists says removing just part of the breast would not be as effective as full mastectomies."You have to remove all of the breast tissue to reduce the risk of future breast cancer," says Kuske.

There is testing that can be done to see if you are at risk. But the tests aren't cheap. "It's $3,000," says Kuske. "Insurance companies don't like to pay that unless the risk is over ten percent. And different insurance companies have different policies."

Some women get the test in their 20s, and some don't get it until their 50s. It's fairly easy to do."You take a little swab in your mouth, send the DNA to California, and we get the test results back in about three weeks," says Kuske.

But he urges women not to panic. "Less than one percent of the general population has the gene," says Kuske. "It's not that every woman is destined to get breast cancer. And if you do not have the gene, you do not need mastectomies."

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