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Angelina's Surgeon Believes She Has Saved Lives

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The surgeon who performed actress Angelina Jolie’s breast reconstruction back in February is speaking out for the first time about his famous patient.

Dr. Jay Orringer, who practices at the Renaissance Medical Center for Aesthetic Surgery in Beverly Hills, spoke publicly about Jolie at a Breast Reconstruction Awareness Event in Miami on Oct. 16.

“Angelina Jolie is a very courageous and altruistic individual, who truly cares about helping others and the fact that she has been so graciously willing to share her story has already saved many lives,” Dr. Orringer told CBS4 Miami. “People that I’ve actually spoken with, attribute the saving of their lives to her.”

Jolie underwent a double mastectomy as a preventive measure after she tested positive for the mutative gene BRCA1. In a May New York Times op-ed piece, Jolie shared that the “faulty gene sharply increases my risk of developing breast cancer and ovarian cancer.”

She wrote that doctors estimated that she had an 87 percent risk of breast cancer and a 50 percent risk of ovarian cancer.

“Once I knew that this was my reality, I decided to be proactive and to minimize the risk as much as I could,” said Jolie. “I started with the breasts, as my risk of breast cancer is higher than my risk of ovarian cancer, and the surgery is more complex.”

Orringer also took the time to speak out on the benefits of a team approach for breast cancer treatment, stating that plastic surgeons should really be involved from the time a woman is diagnosed so that she can consider all of her options.

"A woman has the right to speak with not just the breast surgeon, but also a plastic surgeon,” said Orringer. “A woman is the captain of her own health care team, and the doctors involved should be co-captains with her, working with her to help achieve the best outcomes."

Orringer’s underlying goal is really to educate the patient on all forms of treatment to make them aware of any pros and cons before making a final decision.

"What I would like to avoid in the future is a woman coming in for breast reconstruction after previous radiation therapy, and saying, 'I had no idea about the implications of the radiation I had.'"

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