TODAY   |  October 17, 2013

Angelina Jolie’s doctor: Her brave decision is saving lives

Dr. Jay Orringer treated actress Angelina Jolie when she underwent reconstructive surgery after a preventive double mastectomy earlier this year and explains that that actress’s decision to have the mastectomy has encouraged other women to be proactive about their health care. TODAY’s Natalie Morales reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> the most common form of cancer in the u.s., one in eight will develop it in here lifetime.

>> angelina jolie helped raise awareness earlier this year when she went public to have a decision to have a double mastectomy. now her surgeon is speaking out about the impact she's had. she's an international super star , but earlier this 84, angelina jolie made headlines with a personal decision. at 37-years-old, jolie revealed she had undergone preventtive surgery, a double mastectomy because she had a 87% risk of developing breast cancer . in a new york times op-ed says her decision was influenced by her mom's long fight and eventual death from breast cancer at the age of 56.

>> lives already have truly begun to be saved.

>> reporter: he performed the reconstructive surgery . he says her decision to come forward is helping women around the world.

>> i already have seen and heard of women whose, who became proactive in their health care who said, i'm going to get gene tested. i'm going to get a mammogram.

>> on wednesday, the doctor spoke in hollywood, florida as part of breast reconstruction awareness day . he says women should involve a team of doctors from the very beginning of breast cancer treatment , including a plastic surgeon .

>> there's going to come a time when one's appearance in the mirror is going to again become important. we need to look down that long path and what we can do to hopefully regain a sense of wholeness and beauty.

>> you never think it's going to happen to you.

>> mary burns , a mother of four, found out she had breast cancer in 2009 . she opted to have a double mastectomy.

>> i was told i needed to talk to a plastic surgeon . i authority, why would i go to a plastic surgeon ? my surgeon said, no, no, no, it's a team approach. you into toad talk to a plastic surgeon .

>> the doctor told her to think beyond the cancer.

>> do you want to live with a scar? every time you look in the mirror, you are going to think of cancer. they were the best word he said to me.

>> it's treating the individual as a whole person in helping her to restore her sense of beauty, her sense of wholeness.

>> now, mary is cancer-free and happy with her decision.

>> when i put on a pretty ball gown on a pretty dress, i feel pretty and that's so important because you don't want to go around the rest of your life carrying that big c on your shoulder. i think it's so important that you can stand up proud and feel good about how you look.

>> and under federal law , health insurers must cover reconstructive surgery , contact several cancer organization, they support this team approach to cancer treatment.