Double mastectomy for Angelina Jolie

The US actress says fears of cancer led to her to having the operation.

FILE PHOTO: Angelina Jolie announced on Tuesday that she underwent a double mastectomy. Picture: AFP.

NEW YORK - Actress Angelina Jolie said on Tuesday that fears of developing breast cancer because of a gene mutation led her to have a preventive double mastectomy this year, urging other women to take steps to see if they had a similar risk.

Jolie, writing in the New York Times, said her own mother's early death from cancer and the discovery that she carried the BRCA1 gene mutation, which can lead to a sharply higher risk of breast and ovarian cancer, resulted in her decision.

"Once I knew this was my reality, I decided to be proactive and to minimize the risk as much as I could. I made a decision to have a preventive double mastectomy."

She said three months of surgical procedures were completed at the end of April and thanked her partner, actor Brad Pitt, for his love and support throughout the process.

Spokesmen for Jolie and Pitt were not immediately available for comment.