Jolie’s Mastectomy May Spur Breast Cancer Conversations

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(Memphis) Angelina Jolie brings star power to another important cause, breast cancer awareness.

"It helps people to say gosh if something like this happened to me, it's not the end of life as I know it," says Pam Winter, a Breast Health Specialist with Baptist Hospital.

Winter says Jolie spoke volumes by getting tested for her own risk after her mom died of breast cancer.

She says know your family history.

"If you see breast cancer or ovarian cancer diagnosed in someone under the age of 50, then we get concerned," says Winter.

Jolie chose to get both breasts removed, but Winter says that may not be an option for everyone, "There are options available, anywhere from closer screenings to all the way up to surgery like Angelina chose."

It's a big step and can be expensive, from $300 to $3,000.

Officials at Memphis' Susan G. Komen office say a big part of their work is to provide financial support to women who can't afford screenings and treatment .

"The Affordable Care Act is bridging the gap between those that aren't at the poverty level and  those that don't have high level insurance coverage," says Elaine Hare, Executive Director of Susan G. Komen Memphis.

She says Angelina Jolie has given all women something to think about, their health and their  options, "It's phenomenal. I would compare it to in 1974 when Betty Ford, as the first lady, came out with her breast cancer and made it open to discussion."

Depending on what type of insurance you have, the cost of genetic testing  and the treatment  may or may not be covered.

We are told, if there's a history of breast cancer in your family and you want this test, your inability to pay won't prevent you from getting it.

For more information about the options at Baptist Hospital, call Baptist Women's Health Center at 901-226-0828  or  Baptist Center for Cancer Cure at 901-226-4039.