Angelina's openness in talking about her own experience and her decision to have surgery raises crucial awareness of breast cancer and its genetic risk.
Deciding whether to have preventative surgery is a heart-rending decision for women like Angelina but we know it's a vital way of saving lives.
– Baroness Delyth Morgan, chief executive of Breast Cancer Campaign
This is a stark reminder of how much more research we need to do to give women more knowledge, choice and life-saving options to reduce their risk.
If you are at all concerned that you may have an inherited mutation in your family and want further advice, your GP will be able to provide more information and help.
Angelina Jolie has had a double mastectomy after doctors calculated she had an 87% chance of developing breast cancer as a carrier of the BRCA1 gene.
- Around 1 in 20 breast cancers is partly caused by an inherited gene fault and the BRCA1 gene is just one of these.
- The BRCA1 gene helps to repair damage to DNA. When a mutated gene is passed from parent to child, all the breasts' cells carry this mutation.
- Women with a faulty gene have a 50 to 80% chance of getting breast cancer in their lifetime.
- BRCA2 and TP53 genes are also associated with increased risk of breast cancer.
- Genetic tests are available to women with a high risk of having changes in these genes.
Foreign Secretary William Hague said Angelina Jolie is a "a brave lady" who would be "an inspiration to many" after revealing that she had a double mastectomy to reduce her risk of breast cancer.
Mr Hague who visited refugee camps in the Democratic Republic of Congo with Jolie in March, as part of a campaign to highlight the problem of mass rape in conflict areas, added:
"She is a courageous lady and a very professional lady. She's done a lot of work with me in recent months."
"She gave no sign that she was undergoing such treatment and I think she's a very brave lady, not only to carry on with her work so well during such treatment, but also to write about it now and talk about it. I think that she's a brave lady and will be an inspiration to many."
- A mastectomy is an operation to remove the breast mainly as a treatment for cancer or to reduce the risk of it developing.
- In 2010-2011, over 18,000 mastectomies were carried out in England.
- Risk-reducing (prophylactic) mastectomies are carried out on women who have family history of breast cancer.
- Certain genes known as BRCA1 and BRCA2, can increase the risk of developing breast cancer.
- Preventative mastectomies can reduce the risk of breast cancer by up to 90% in people at a high risk of developing the condition.
- Some women opt for artificial breast reconstruction after the procedure.
- Around 55,000 people are diagnosed with breast cancer each year in the UK. That’s one person every 10 minutes.
- Just under 12,000 people die from breast cancer in the UK every year.
- Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the UK, and account for around a third of all new cancers diagnosed in women.
- An estimated 550,000 people living in the UK today have had a diagnosis of breast cancer.
- More people are being diagnosed with breast cancer but survival rates are improving.
Daybreak's Health Editor Dr Hilary said that it is now "becoming less rare" for women to have a double mastectomy to decrease the risk of breast cancer.
Actress Angelina Jolie admitted in the New York Times that she underwent the operation after doctors told her she had an 87% risk of breast cancer.
Dr Hilary said: "People like Michelle [Heaton] and Angelina are saying consider this, this is not such a drastic procedure."
Liberty X singer Michelle Heaton told Daybreak it is "amazing" that Angelina Jolie has been able to recover privately following a preventative double mastectomy.
The singer herself underwent the operation to lessen her risk of breast cancer.
"I can't even stress how much of an impact that I had talking to women to say that I was going through this, it was such a huge impact," Michelle said, "imagine what impact somebody as huge as Angelina Jolie can have on this."