Common Bond for Local Woman and Jolie

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CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Actress Angelina Jolie’s decision to come forward to reveal she had a preventative double mastectomy is something one Cleveland woman is all too familiar with.

Dana Kachurchak, 52, of Chagrin Falls, said her mother died of ovarian cancer in 2009.  And just like Jolie, she, too, carried the genetic mutation which increased her risk of breast cancer.

In 2010, Kachurchak, a mother of two, had a double mastectomy.

"Do we want to sit there and just do maintenance check-ups and be looking over our shoulder praying that nothing happens? Or do we want to go forward and be proactive and whatever that means. I chose to have a double mastectomy," said Kachurchak.

It’s a brave and proactive choice, said Cleveland Clinic breast surgeon Dr. Stephanie Valente.

"If a female carries those genetic mutations, their overall risk in their lifetime of getting breast cancer is between 60 and 80 percent risk, and of ovarian cancer between 15 and 40 percent," said Valente.

Valente said the test to determine if a person carries the gene is expensive; between $3,000 and $4,000, and often not covered by insurance.

Valente said if a woman has a family history of cancer, counseling is recommended to determine if the test or surgery is needed.

Doctors estimated Jolie had an 87 percent risk for breast cancer before her mastectomy. She said her risk has now dropped to just 5 percent.

Many are praising her and Kachurchak for coming forward. Dana’s risk has now dropped to below 1 percent.

“What it came down to is I want to be around," she said. "I have a four-year-old and an eight-year-old.”

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