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Angelina Jolie's double mastectomy announcement hit close to home

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- Movie star Angelina Jolie's announcement she underwent a double mastectomy is making headlines. Experts says it is not uncommon for people to undergo a preventive double mastectomy, especially if they carry the BRCA gene like Jolie. People who carry the BRCA gene have an increased risk of getting breast and ovarian cancer.

"We can't reduce their risk to zero but we can reduce their risk significantly to maybe 3 or 4 percent and so when we have some of that we council them and we see them a lot over the next few months," Cyrus Kotwall the Zimmerman Cancer Center Medical Director says.

Like Angelina Jolie, Kathy Bobbitt knew she carried the gene and also lost her mother to cancer. Dr. Kotwall says most cancer is not caused by the gene. He says the gene accounts for less than 10 percent.

Three days after surgery Bobbitt got other news. She says doctors found two tumors in her breast. She could no longer undergo reconstruction, unlike Jolie, because she had to have another surgery. Bobbitt says the gene has been passed down in her family for generations.

"You have inherited it either through your mom or your dads lines going back centuries and centuries," Cyrus Kotwall says.

Bobbitt says one day she finally realized it was time for her to do something.

"I just decided I didn't want the anxiety every six months. Is this going to be the time that they are going to find something? And my mind was made up. I was ready to go and do this," Kathy Bobbitt who underwent a preventive double mastectomy says.

Kathy Bobbitt says she does not regret her decision and she would recommend a preventive double mastectomy to anyone else who has the BRCA gene.

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