JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- In light of Angelina Jolie announcing she had a double mastectomy after testing positive for a breast cancer gene, many women are wondering -- can I afford to do that too? Action News took that question to UF and Shands Jacksonville.
Dr. Shahla Masood is a world renowned breast cancer expert right here in Jacksonville. she says Jolie lowered her risk of breast cancer significantly by having surgery after testing positive for the breast cancer gene.
"If these genes are found, the risk of breast or ovarian cancer increases significantly in the range of 55-85, 87 percent," she said.
Women are now wondering if they should follow her lead. Masood says peace of mind has a steep price. The gene test alone costs thousands.
"If the insurance doesn't pay for it and if the patient doesn't want to pay that $3,500 or cannot afford it, there are very few things they can do."
If you can afford the test, and the results are positive, like Jolie's, you can then choose to have a double mastectomy.
"It's pretty expensive. It is not something that you can say 'I am going to be doing this and it is cheap'."
Masood tells Action News every hospital has its own price. That being said, she says every day, women do take these steps, not just celebrities. But she'd like to see things change to make it affordable for everyone at risk.
"This is a concept that really has to be brought to light in respect to providing ways that everyone can benefit from this test."
Dr Masood says another potential issue is if you pay all that money to have the cancer gene test done, even if it comes back negative you still could wind up with breast cancer.
Doctors say insurance will only pay for the gene test if the patient has a family history of breast cancer. If you test positive, insurance will cover the surgery.