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Dr. Judy Garber On Angelina Jolie’s Cancer Decision

Dr. Judy Garber — director of the Center for Cancer Genetics and Prevention at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute – joined us for the final segment of our show today to talk about actress Angelina Jolie’s decision to undergo a preventative double mastectomy.

Using Jolie’s case as a model, Dr. Garber discussed how women at high risk for breast or ovarian cancer need to weigh their own particular circumstances when deciding whether or not to proceed with a surgical option:

“DR. GARBER: It’s amazing how differently people cope with this knowledge, and when in their lives people want to take control of the situation and say, okay, this is what I have, this is what I’m going to do about it, or now is not the time. You can find out you have this gene at any point. If you’re 25, you want to have your children, you want to do things in your life, you may not have a partner yet, surgery may not be the way to go at that moment. Later in your life, different options suddenly become more reasonable. And Angelina was able to choose when she was going to be tested, and then what she was going to do, and we hope everybody should have that kind of access and that kind of power.”

Dr. Garber also spoke with host Tom Ashbrook about how the available options for surgery have changed over the past decades:

“DR. GARBER: The surgery has gotten better. It’s still major surgery, but women these days often keep the nipple, which gives them from the outside a much more natural appearance.

TOM: Angelina Jolie suggests in her essay that she did that.

DR. GARBER: Yes, I think that she worked hard to do that. I think that the materials that are used to substitute for the original breast tissue is more natural and has finally been proven to be safe. There are procedures where women can use their own tissue. It’s absolutely still a big deal, but I think at the end women hopefully will feel more beautiful, less mutilated. You know, this is something that people definitely have strong feelings about, but the surgery has improved. And not that we mean to push everyone to have surgery. But for those people who make that choice, it’s nice to have better options.”

You can listen here to our full segment with Dr. Garber:

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  • coolinboston

    This is really a touchy subject for women especially that they are more conscious than men about their physical appearance. There should be a serious dialogue between a woman and her physician before making such decision.

ONPOINT
TODAY
Apr 16, 2014
A woman walks past a CVS store window in Foxborough, Mass., Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2012. The nation’s major drugstore chains are opening more in-store clinics in response to the massive U.S. health care overhaul, which is expected to add about 25 million newly insured people who will need medical care and prescriptions, as well as offering more services as a way to boost revenue in the face of competition from stores like Safeway and Wal-Mart. (AP)

Retailers from Walgreens to Wal-Mart to CVS are looking to turn into health care outlets. It’s convenient. Is it good medicine? Plus: using tech to disrupt the healthcare market.

Apr 16, 2014
Harvard Business School is one of the top-ranked MBA programs in the country. Our guest today suggests those kinds of degrees aren't necessary for business success. (HBS / Facebook)

Humorist and longtime Fortune columnist Stanley Bing says, “forget the MBA.” He’s got the low-down on what you really need to master in business. Plus: the sky-high state of executive salaries.

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Apr 15, 2014
In this file photo, author and journalist Matt Taibbi speaks to a crowd of Occupy Wall Street protestors after a march on the offices of pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, Wednesday, Feb. 29, 2012, in New York. There was a heavy police presence around the 42nd Street area as the demonstration began Wednesday morning outside. (AP)

Muckraking journalist Matt Taibbi sees a huge and growing divide in the US justice system, where big money buys innocence and poverty means guilt. He joins us.

 
Apr 15, 2014
A crowd gathers at the finish line of the Boston Marathon in Boston for a Sports Illustrated photo shoot before the one-year anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombings, Saturday, April 12, 2014. (AP)

One year after the Boston Marathon bombing, we look at national and local security on the terrorism front now, and what we’ve learned.

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