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May 14, 2013 | By Christie DZurilla
Angelina Jolie was "heroic" for undergoing a preventive double mastectomy, her fiance, Brad Pitt, said Tuesday after she wrote an op-ed piece revealing her decision and describing the mastectomy process, which began in February.  "Having witnessed this decision firsthand, I find Angie's choice, as well as so many others like her, absolutely heroic," he told the Weekly Standard in a statement, also thanking their medical team. "All I want for is for her to have a long and healthy life, with myself and our children," he said.
May 14, 2013 | By Robin Abcarian, This post has been corrected, as noted below.
I'd like to raise the teensiest red flag on Angelina Jolie's laudable decision Tuesday to go public about her health struggles in order to help other women benefit from her experience. In an essay published Tuesday in the New York Times, Jolie wrote about opting for an elective, preventive double mastectomy and breast reconstruction after learning she carries the faulty BRCA1 gene, which greatly increases the risk of breast and ovarian cancer. That inherited mutation, she wrote, gave her an 87% chance of contracting breast cancer, and a 50% chance of contracting ovarian cancer.
May 14, 2013 | By Joseph Serna and Christie D'Zurilla
Angelina Jolie's decision to have a double mastectomy because of a rare gene she and relatives carry speaks to the importance of knowing your family's history with cancer, the American Cancer Society said. In an  op-ed in the New York Times  under the headline “My Medical Choice,” the Oscar-winning actress said she underwent surgical procedures to remove both breasts between February and April. Jolie, 37, said that genetic testing discovered she had the  BRCA1 gene , which increased her chances of developing breast cancer to 87%. On Tuesday, the American Cancer Society released a statement urging awareness and caution regarding testing and prophylactic surgery.
May 14, 2013 | By Jon Healey
It's hard to imagine Supreme Court justices paying much attention to the travails of Hollywood's rich and famous. Still, there's an interesting connection between Angelina Jolie's disclosure Tuesday that she underwent a double mastectomy and a case the court is deliberating, the Assn. for Molecular Pathology vs. Myriad Genetics . At issue is whether a human gene sequence can be patented. That's the broad question. The two specific sequences patented by Myriad -- BRCA1 and BRCA2 -- are genes that suppress tumors . A small percentage of women have defective copies of those genes, and they are extremely likely to develop a virulent form of breast cancer.
May 14, 2013 | By Eryn Brown, Los Angeles Times
By opting for surgery to remove her breasts while they were still healthy, Angelina Jolie joined a growing number of women who have used genetic testing to take control of their health. Here are answers to some common questions about how DNA influences breast cancer risk and what women can do about it. What genes are involved in breast cancer? The two primary ones are known as BRCA1 and BRCA2. Hundreds of variants of these genes have been found that make a woman - or a man - more likely to develop breast cancer.
April 19, 2013 | By Lisa Zamosky
When Maggie Heim had a recurrence of ovarian cancer about a year after her initial treatment, her oncologist suggested that she take what he believed could be a lifesaving drug. There was just one problem: Her insurer wouldn't pay for it. The 59-year-old Hermosa Beach resident inquired about the cost of the treatment at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where she received care. To her alarm, she was told that the cancer-fighting drug, Avastin, would set her back as much as $50,000 a month.
April 16, 2013 | By David G. Savage and Chad Terhune, Los Angeles Times
WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court took up a deceptively simple question in a case brought by breast cancer patients and medical researchers: Are human genes patentable? The answer appeared to be "no" during Monday's oral arguments. The justices signaled that they probably will bar any grants of exclusive and profitable patents on human genes that prevent other scientists from testing these pieces of DNA. But the justices were aware the issue itself was anything but simple, and they sounded wary of going too far and taking away the financial incentives for companies and their scientists to explore new uses for DNA. "The patent law is filled with uneasy compromises," Justice Stephen G. Breyer said.
April 15, 2013 | By Karen Kaplan
Can a private company own rights to your DNA? The nine justices of the Supreme Court will consider that question Monday as lawyers for Myriad Genetics make their best case that the company should be able to keep its patent on two genes known to influence the risk of developing breast cancer and ovarian cancer. Challenging that notion will be lawyers representing the Assn. for Molecular Pathology and other scientific organizations, which argue that allowing genes to be patented slows or shuts down scientific research involving those genes.
April 1, 2013 | By Eryn Brown
Certain mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes can increase a woman's chances of developing breast cancer or ovarian cancer dramatically. But that doesn't mean all women should line up for laboratory testing to see if they have those risky versions of the genes, members of a government panel said Monday.  Unless she has a family history that makes it likely she has the harmful mutations, a woman will be unlikely to benefit from genetic counseling and...
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