And by coming forward and sharing her story, the Oscar-winning actress hoped to inspire millions of women to be proactive about safeguarding their own health.
In the wake of Jolie's announcement, here's a look at other celebrities who have courageously opened up about their struggles with breast cancer:
Olivia Newton-John: In 1992, the Grease star was diagnosed with breast cancer, prompting her to undergo a mastectomy. Twenty years later, Newton-John has since recovered and is now a strong advocate on behalf of breast cancer survivors and is the product spokeswoman for the Liv-Kit, which enables women to perform self-exams.
Edie Falco: The Sopranos star found out she had breast cancer in 2003 but kept it a secret until the following year while she underwent chemotherapy. The treatment was a success, and Falco made a full recovery and has since become a spokeswoman for the Y-Me Breast Cancer Organization.
Melissa Etheridge: The rocker discovered she had breast cancer in October 2004 and underwent chemotherapy, though that didn't stop her from playing the 2005 Grammy Awards bald. She has since inspired countless others with her activism and appeared with other celebrity cancer survivors in the 2010 breast cancer docudrama 1 a Minute.
Giuliana Rancic: The longtime E! News host announced she was battling early-stage breast cancer in 2011 and underwent a successful double mastectomy and has now fully recovered. She has since joined forces with the nonprofit Bright Pink to provide support to women going through cancer treatment
Cynthia Nixon: The Sex and the City star was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 40 in 2006 after a routine mammogram but, like Falco, kept it under wraps. After surgery and radiation treatment to remove a small growth of cancer, she was given a clean bill of health and went public about her illness in 2008. She has since become a staunch breast-cancer activist and ambassador for Susan G. Komen for the Cure.
Sheryl Crow: Grammy-winning singer learned she had early-stage breast cancer in 2006, but she made a full recovery and went on to appear in the 2007 documentary Crazy Sexy Cancer with other famous cancer survivors. She also penned the forward for the book Crazy Sexy Cancer Tips.
Robin Roberts: The Good Morning America cohost detected her breast cancer early, and after chemo and radiation, she made a successful recovery. Last year, she underwent a bone-marrow transplant to treat a rare blood disorder. On both occasions, she courageously chronicled her health battles on her morning show and served as an inspiration to millions of women.
Christina Applegate: In 2008, the actress was diagnosed at age 36 as having early-stage breast cancer in one breast. However, given her family's history with the disease, like Jolie she opted to undergo a double mastectomy and has since been declared cancer-free. She has helped to raise millions for breast-cancer education and research and founded Right Action for Women, which provides financial aid to women to afford MRI screenings.
Kylie Minogue: The Aussie pop star was diagnosed with breast cancer in March 2005, forcing her to scrap her tour. But she successfully resumed her singing career and has since spent quite a bit of time raising awareness and money for cancer research.
Sharon Osbourne: The Osbourne family matriarch and America's Got Talent judge also underwent a preventive double mastectomy after doctors discovered she carried a gene that made her susceptible to breast cancer (she previously battled colon cancer). She has since helped raise money for breast cancer research.