It has been almost two and a half years since Angelina Jolie came forward and shared her decision to undergo a double mastectomy. At the time, her decision garnered considerable attention and has become known as the “Angelina effect”. Once a media frenzy, the true and lasting effect of Angelina’s decision was not known until recently.
Curious as to if the “Angelina Effect” would last; a team of researchers at the Medical University of Graz in Austria, studied the effect that Angelina’s decision had on the greater public. Published just this month in the American Cancer Society’s peer-reviewed journal, CANCER, the researchers found that overall, the increased media coverage has increased the public’s general knowledge about breast cancer and its related procedures.
Researchers conducted two online polls—one month prior to and one month after Angelina announced she had undergone a double mastectomy. From the answers of the 1000 female participants, researchers found that while the majority of participant’s at 44.6% answered “no, not influenced by the media coverage” a large percentage of women at 35.4% answered that they had been influenced by Angelina’s decision.
- Increase by 4%: Percentage of women aware that reconstruction is possible after mastectomy (from 88.9 to 92.6%)
- Increase by 2%: Percentage of women aware that breast reconstruction can be performed using an implant (87.4 to 89.9%)
- Increase by 11%: Percentage of women aware that breast reconstruction can be performed sans implant by using tissue taken from elsewhere on the body (57.6 to 68.9%)
- Increase by 19%: Percentage of women aware that reconstruction can be completed simultaneously with the mastectomy (40.5 to 59.5%)
Exclusive to the second poll, the women were asked, “Has the related media coverage made you deal more intensively with the topic of breast cancer?”. Researchers reported that 205 or, 20.5% of the study’s participants answered “yes”.
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When she came forward, Angelina was clear as to her motivation: “I hope that other women can benefit from my experience,” she said of her decision “to be proactive and minimize the risk”. As the study highlights, Angelina’s bravery to come forward has increased the public’s awareness of breast cancer as well as breast reconstruction.
At Eastbay Aesthetic Surgery, we advocate for the importance of breast reconstruction—believing it to be both physically and emotionally therapeutic. If you or a loved one is considering reconstruction, we would love to sit down with you and go over breast reconstruction options.