Media coverage of actress Angelina Jolie’s breast removal and reconstruction improved awareness about breast reconstruction, a new study suggests.
Jolie had both of her breasts removed in 2013 because she has a gene mutation that increased her risk for breast cancer, and then she underwent breast reconstruction surgery.
Researchers conducted online surveys with 1,000 women before and after Jolie went public about her surgeries. After her announcement, 4 percent more women were aware that reconstructive breast surgery is possible after one or both breasts are removed.
In addition, 11 percent more women were aware that breast reconstruction can be done using a woman’s own tissue, and 19 percent more were aware that reconstruction can be done during the breast-removal operation.
In the second survey, one-fifth of participants said media coverage about Jolie’s surgeries made them “deal more intensively with the topic of breast cancer,” according to Dr. David Benjamin Lumenta of the division of plastic, esthetic and reconstructive surgery at the Medical University of Graz, Austria, and colleagues.
Their study was published online Sept. 28 in the journal Cancer.
The findings suggest that media coverage can help improve the public’s knowledge about a particular health topic, the researchers said.
The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more about breast reconstruction.