In 1956, Alice discovered she had breast cancer. She underwent a mastectomy and it was success. In 1970, the cancer returned to the remaining breast and she had a second mastectomy. Taking it in her usual Alice stride, she said she was the only "topless octogenarian" in Washington.
and now, the headlines say that Angelina Jolie has had a double mastectomy because she carries a gene that gives her a very high risk for breast cancer.
Good for her. Too often these ladies instead get yearly MRI's and repeated biopsies and we still miss cases.
And another alternative, a drug that is touted to decrease their risk, does lower their risk but puts some women into a depression and results in a loss of libido.
I had one woman who was so bad her marriage was at risk: I told her to ask her husband if he would prefer a sexless marriage or a wife without boobs...
NYTimes article here.
it should be noted that the risk of breast cancer is 10 percent, and getting higher, probably because early pregnancy, many pregnancies and breast feeding protect you from breast cancer (and now, having ten kids is rare).
Having a close relative (mother, sister) with cancer increases your risk, but there is also a familial risk, where nearly every woman has had breast cancer in a family. This is the type that Ms Jolie apparantly has, and actually I think her choice was wise, and that she is brave for chosing to make her choice public.