- 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.
Actress and campaigner Angelina Jolie has paid tribute to her partner Brad Pitt for his support as she underwent a preventative double mastectomy to reduce her risk of breast cancer.
Writing in the New York Times, she wrote: "I am fortunate to have a partner, Brad Pitt, who is so loving and supportive".
"So to anyone who has a wife or girlfriend going through this, know that you are a very important part of the transition".
"Brad was at the Pink Lotus Breast Center, where I was treated, for every minute of the surgeries. We managed to find moments to laugh together.
"We knew this was the right thing to do for our family and that it would bring us closer. And it has."
- 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."
Angelina Jolie has written in the New York Times about her decision to undergo a preventative double mastectomy to reduce her risk of breast cancer.
My mother fought cancer for almost a decade and died at 56. She held out long enough to meet the first of her grandchildren and to hold them in her arms. But my other children will never have the chance to know her and experience how loving and gracious she was.
My doctors estimated that I had an 87 percent risk of breast cancer and a 50 percent risk of ovarian cancer, although the risk is different in the case of each woman.
Once I knew that this was my reality, I decided to be proactive and to minimize the risk as much I could. I made a decision to have a preventive double mastectomy.
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."