Angelina Jolie, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and more celebrities underwent mastectomy surgery amid concerns about breast cancer.
Maleficent star revealed that she had a preventative double mastectomy in February 2013 after discovering that she carried the “fault” breast cancer gene BRCA1. “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,” she wrote in a May 2013 New York Times essay.
Jolie then detailed her three months of procedures. “Once I knew that this was my reality, I decided to be proactive and to minimize the risk as much as I could,” she explained. She had a “nipple delay” operation followed by a breast tissue removal surgery two weeks later. Nine weeks after that, she underwent breast reconstruction surgery with implants.
“I can tell my children that they don’t need to fear they will lose me to breast cancer,” she pointed out, noting that her risk of developing the disease was reduced to five percent. “It is reassuring that they see nothing that makes them uncomfortable. They can see my small scars and that’s it. Everything else is just Mommy, the same as she always was.”
Other stars underwent the operation after being diagnosed with breast cancer. “Frankly, I would never have made this a public journey, but I kind of had to given the circumstances because our show [
Veep] had to shut down for a period of time,” Louis-Dreyfus said during a March 2019 appearance on Good Morning America. “I think I reached a lot of people. I was able to raise a lot of money for women who have had mastectomies, who need reconstruction but insurance doesn’t cover that, and I was really happy to be able to do that. The outpouring of support was quite overwhelming.”
Seinfeld alum now advocates on behalf of those experiencing the same illness. “It sounds kind of corny, but there’s something about after you’ve walked through something like this, which is such a crisis, to be able to help someone who’s then going through … It’s very, sort of, comforting to yourself in a weird way,” she said. “It really is something that I’m happy to do. It gives me a lot of energy and a good feeling, for sure.”
Scroll down to see which stars have undergone mastectomies through the years.
After losing her mom, Marcheline Bertrand, to ovarian cancer and then learning that she had the BRCA1 gene mutation, the actress opted to have a preventive double mastectomy (followed by reconstructive surgery) at age 37. She wrote in her
New York Times essay that she felt “empowered” by her decision. “Life comes with many challenges,” she reasoned. “The ones that should not scare us are the ones we can take on and take control of.”
Upon being diagnosed with breast cancer in April 2008 at age 36, the
Married With Children alum at first opted to have a lumpectomy. She later learned, however, that she was a carrier of the BRCA1 gene mutation. Armed with that information, she chose to have both breasts removed in a bilateral mastectomy, followed by reconstructive surgery a few months later. “It can be very painful,” she said in 2008. “It’s also a part of you that’s gone, so you go through a grieving process.”
The E! News personality has spoken openly about her breast cancer battle, including her decision to have a double mastectomy and reconstruction in 2011 at age 37. Going through the ordeal publicly was painful, she wrote after Jolie’s announcement, but it was worth it. “In helping other women, you end up helping yourself,” she said. “You end up being able to validate one of the most painful times in your life by realizing that maybe all the pain and the fear and the tears were worth it.”
The actress and comic decided to have a double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery after being diagnosed with ductal cancer in situ (sometimes referred to as “stage zero” breast cancer) in 2011 at age 47. The surgery wasn’t medically necessary, but Sykes had a history of breast cancer in her family and didn’t want to spend the rest of her life worrying. “I had both breasts removed, because now I have zero chance of having breast cancer,” she told
Talk cohost revealed in November 2012 that she had undergone a preventive double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery at age 60 after learning she was at increased risk for breast cancer. “As soon as I found out I had the breast cancer gene, I thought, ‘The odds are not in my favor,'” Osbourne told Hello! magazine. “I’ve had cancer before, and I didn’t want to live under that cloud. I decided to just take everything off and had a double mastectomy.”
Today show anchor underwent a mastectomy and reconstructive surgery after her breast cancer diagnosis in 2007. Writing about the experience later, she said it gave her the strength to tackle other challenges. “A funny thing happened as my body started to heal — my mind did as well,” she wrote in 2008. “The world just suddenly snapped into focus. Everything that was important became totally clear. … My life after cancer is more courageous and more honest and fuller than my life before.”
After beating ovarian cancer in 2004, the Academy Award-winning actress was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012 at age 64. She underwent a double mastectomy shortly thereafter. “I don’t miss my breasts as much as I miss
Harry’s Law,” she quipped on Twitter, referring to her defunct TV drama. “Thanks for all the sweet tweets. Y’all kept me going.”
Grease star was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 44 in 1992, on the same weekend her father died from liver cancer. “I underwent a partial mastectomy and breast reconstruction,” she explained on the website for the Olivia Newton-John Cancer & Wellness Centre. “It’s been a long journey, but now I am cancer-free. The whole experience has given me so much understanding and compassion.”
Newton-John learned she had breast cancer again in 2013 after 25 years in remission. She then revealed that doctors found a tumor in her lower back in 2017. The singer has undergone chemotherapy and other treatment methods in recent years.
After watching both her mother and her father battle breast cancer, the former
Early Show anchor knew all too well the cost of the disease. So in 2007, at age 44, she took action. “I didn’t want to wait until I was diagnosed,” she wrote in an essay for Everyday Health of her surgery and subsequent reconstruction. “At the end of the day, I had my preventive double mastectomy because I love my life and I want to be here for as long as I could be.”
Veep alum shared her diagnosis in September 2017 at age 56. She completed six rounds of chemotherapy and had a double mastectomy. “I’m still working it out, to be honest with you,” she told Vanity Fair in 2019. “I’m glad I got through it, but there’s a part of me that’s still a little frightened, you know?”
Beverly Hills, 90210 alum had a single mastectomy in May 2016 after she was diagnosed with breast cancer in March 2015 at age 43. “Cancer has changed my life for the better,” she told the Press Association in November 2016. “It’s made me a better human being. It stripped away all of the walls and the barriers.”
Doherty announced in April 2017 that she was in remission. However, she revealed in February 2020 that she had stage IV breast cancer.
Wilson shared in April 2015 that she underwent a bilateral mastectomy and reconstruction after being diagnosed with invasive lobular carcinoma at age 58. “We often assume that once you have had the surgery and treatment, you are fine. And hopefully you are,” she wrote in a September 2017 essay for
Harper’s Bazaar. “But I found that there were unexpected things that came along with having gone through something as frightening as having had cancer that I only heard about from my friends who’d had cancer too.”
Bachelor alum tested positive for the BRCA2 genetic mutation and underwent a preventative double mastectomy in April 2017 at age 29. She then had breast implant surgery. “It took a lot of nerve and courage and gut to undergo that surgery, but now it’s all taken care of and I’m so glad I’m on the other side of it,” Murphy exclusively told Us Weekly in November 2018.
Courtesy of Lesley Murphy/Instagram
Jessica St. Clair
Playing House alum was diagnosed with breast cancer in September 2015 at age 39. She then had a mastectomy and completed 16 rounds of chemotherapy. “I am so proud of my new boobs that I take them out whenever I can,” she joked in a May 2017 essay.
Dancing With the Stars cohost underwent a “grueling” double mastectomy in May 2014. Harris revealed her breast cancer diagnosis the month prior at age 40 and said she chose the procedure so she could “take control” of the disease.
Lee had a double mastectomy in 2015 at age 49 after learning she had breast cancer. The TV personality ultimately contracted a post-operative infection, which required more surgery. “When your body has that kind of surgery, it’s massive,” she said in 2017.
Robach discovered she had breast cancer during an on-air mammogram for
Good Morning America. She underwent a double mastectomy in November 2013 at age 40. Ahead of the operation, the journalist declared on the morning show that she had “a lot to fight for,” adding: “I’ve decided to be very aggressive.”
Mike Reed/ACE Pictures/Shutterstock
The comedian chose not to get reconstructive surgery after undergoing a double mastectomy in 2012 following her cancer diagnosis at age 41. “I was trying to get comfortable with my body, and I had some shame and sadness and discomfort about the way I looked after my surgery and I think that my brain going to, ‘Oh, take your shirt off,’ was something that I thought might help me move through it,” she recalled on
Fresh Air in May 2018 of performing stand-up topless.