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Celebrity Attention Shines Spotlight on Cancer Prevention

Leon Neal
Getty Images

Actress Angelina Jolie revealed this week that because she inherited a gene mutation that severely increases the risk of getting breast cancer, she decided to have a preventative double mastectomy, removing both of her breasts and then getting reconstructive surgery.  


Dr. Sue Friedman is the founder and executive director of an organization called FORCE, which stands for Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered. 

Friedman says that while her organization has been helping raise awareness for years, it really helps to have a celebrity shine a spotlight on the issue. 

"When celebrities come out and say, 'I did this. It was tough, but I did this,' it really helps  normalize it," Friedman said. "It takes away the stigma."

A double mastectomy won't completely prevent someone from getting cancer, Friedman said.  And she recommends having a genetic test before getting the surgery to see if you have the BRCA genetic mutation, which puts you at a higher risk.

Friedman's organization is hosting a face-to-face meeting Sunday at 1 p.m. in Tampa, where people can learn more about breast and ovarian cancer prevention. Information is also available at

Lottie Watts covers health and health policy for Health News Florida, now a part of WUSF Public Media. She also produces Florida Matters, WUSF's weekly public affairs show.