PHOENIX - At just 37 years old, seemingly healthy, and without a trace of cancer, actress Angelina Jolie chose to make a preemptive strike against the disease.
After losing her mother to cancer, Jolie's doctors estimated her risk of developing the disease near 90 percent, prompting her to take action.
"It's not an operation that's appropriate for everybody, it's certainly not an operation that's appropriate for someone with a low risk," said Dr. Kimberli Cox with the Comprehensive Breast Center of Arizona.
Valley breast surgeon Kimberli Cox said undergoing surgery to help reduce the risk of cancer--even before any signs show up--is becoming a viable option for many women.
"We commonly do those procedures for women who either already have a malignancy or women who are at high risk," she said.
Cox said many patients opt to undergo breast reconstruction in tandem with the procedure to remove potentially cancerous tissue.
She said the reconstruction can help restore a woman's confidence and femininity.
"In the hands of a good surgeon, you can look like you've had a cosmetic augmentation," she said.
Even though it may seem extreme, Cox said Jolie making her procedure public can only help raise awareness about the fight against breast cancer.
"Awareness never hurts. Education is empowerment," she said.