TODAY   |  November 18, 2012

Miss America contestant getting risky double mastectomy

"I unfortunately lost my mother to breast cancer when I was sixteen," said pageant contestant Allyn Rose. The beauty queen is set to undergo preventative surgery after learning she carries the same cancer gene that killed her mother. NBC’s Michelle Franzen reports.

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>>> a miss america contestant just 16 when she lost her mother to breast cancer , has made a bold decision vochg her health. michelle franzen is here with more.

>> good morning. allyn rose wants to raise awareness about the risk of breast cancer and the choices, sometimes radical, women at risk can make.

>> maryland --

>> reporter: contestant allyn rose is used to being judged on her look, talent and body. but since being crowned miss district of columbia , beauty has taken on a new meaning.

>> allyn rose, 2, newburg, maryland .

>> reporter: when rose takes to the stage in january competing in the miss america pageant , the 24-year-old will have already faced one of the most difficult decisions of her life.

>> maryland .

>> reporter: rose is set to undergo a preventive double mastectomy, a choice she made after learning she carried the rare cancer gene that killed her mother eight years ago.

>> i, unfortunately, lost my mom to breast cancer when i was 16.

>> reporter: in 2011 rose represented miss maryland in the miss usa pageant . this time the contestant wants to raise awareness making breast cancer prevention her platform. medical experts say she is not alone in the decision to have the radical surgery despite not being diagnosed with cancer.

>> being proactive is important and, again, people are just taking their health very seriously.

>> reporter: some celebrities have opted to have surgery. chr christina applegate says she had a double mastectomy to keep her breast cancer from returning.

>> what's the sacrifice for being able to watch this one grow up and have children of their own.

>> reporter: julianna ransick also chose to get a mastectomy.

>> i wasn't prepared to get a mammogram until i was 40 years old.

>> reporter: and susan osborne.

>> i didn't want to make a big deal about it. why worry people and make a fuss unnecessarily?

>> reporter: examples of courage and survival and inspiration for rose who says she is not afraid of choosing life over a different type of beauty. rose plans to have the surgery next summer, but if she wins the miss america title, erica, she will wait until she can fulfill her duties, and that will likely be summer of 2014 .

>> important to get the word out there. michelle, thanks.