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Myriad Genetics Shares Climb After Angelina Jolie Has Mastectomy

The Exchange

Cancer test developer Myriad Genetics (MYGN) saw its shares climb 4% Tuesday, a move that followed word from actress Angelina Jolie that she had a double mastectomy after learning she was at high risk for breast cancer.

Jolie wrote in a New York Times column published late Monday that she underwent voluntary surgery to remove her breasts because a genetic mutation she carries means she has an up to 87% chance of developing the disease in her lifetime. The 37-year-old actress, known for movies such as "Gia" and "Lara Croft: Tomb Raider," led her announcement by noting that her mother died of breast cancer at age 56.

Salt Lake City-based Myriad has a test called the BRACAnalysis that's designed to determine a woman's risk of getting hereditary breast or ovarian cancer by looking for defects in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes. These mutations, the company says, are the cause of most hereditary breast cancer cases. Jolie wrote in her guest piece that she has the BRCA1 mutation.

In recent trading, Myriad, which researches tests for several cancers, including colorectal cancer and pancreatic cancer, was up $1.34 to $34.45. The stock is at its best level since mid-2009, according to Yahoo Finance data.

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Myriad Genetics Stock Chart

"Once I knew that this was my reality, I decided to be proactive and to minimize the risk as much I could," Jolie said in the column. "I made a decision to have a preventive double mastectomy. I started with the breasts, as my risk of breast cancer is higher than my risk of ovarian cancer, and the surgery is more complex."

She said she hoped other women would have the genetic test, and, should they learn they have a greater risk of getting breast or ovarian cancer, "know that they have strong options."

The National Cancer Institute expects more than 232,000 women in the U.S. to be diagnosed with some type of breast cancer this year. It predicts breast cancer will cause 39,620 female deaths. While unusual, men can also get breast cancer. About 2,200 new cases are foreseen in America in 2013, with 410 deaths. Myriad says around 7% of breast cancers are a result of the BRCA1 or BRCA2 defects.

Myriad was in the news earlier this spring by being involved in a legal case on whether patenting human genes should be allowed. A ruling by the Supreme Court will come later this year.

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