A 24-year-old Miss America pageant, who lost her mother to breast cancer, has said that she will undergo a double mastectomy as a preventative measure for her health.

Allyn Rose, who is the newly-crowned Miss District of Columbia and will be competing in the Miss American pageant in January, said she made the decision after tests revealed that she carries a gene linked to an increased risk of breast cancer.

"Breasts don't define your life. I'm choosing life over beauty... I'm not going to let my fear of losing this part of my femininity stop me from living," she told People magazine.

The beauty queen says she plans to undergo her surgery next June, but she said that if she wins the Miss American pageant she will postpone her treatment until January 2014 when her duties are complete.

"My father and I have met with a surgeon and countless doctors. Some of them are wary because I don't have breast cancer and I am so young, but others have said it's a very smart move, especially for someone who is genetically predisposed," she told the celebrity magazine.

Rose said that her mother had been diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 27. Her mother had had her right breast removed, but when she was in her late forties, the cancer came back in her left breast and the disease had reached the most aggressive phase at stage three.

Rose said that despite the family urging her mother to get both breasts removed, she had refused, and Rose said that was "ultimately the thing that killed her."

"I had to become my own mentor. I had to go pick out my prom dress by myself. I had to go to my high school graduation without my mom. She didn't see me go off to college or go on my first date or drive a car for the first time," Rose said about losing her mother to breast cancer at the age of 16.

Since losing her mother, Rose has partnered with the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, Tigerlilly Foundation and Dig Pink, to educate young people on cancer prevention.

"It manifests in male children, but there have been studies that women who are the carriers of it have almost a 75per cent likely chance of contracting breast cancer," she said describing the disease.

"It's a very strange change in our genetic code. Almost all of the women in my family have passed away from it," she added.

Rose admits that she is worried about what her body will look like after her double mastectomy.

"The idea that I could wake up one day and not have the same body that I did the day before is very scary," she said.

Rose told People Magazine that she looks up to figures like Robin Roberts and Giuliana Rancic who have both battled breast cancer, and she hopes to use her pageant as a way to educate others on healthcare.

Rose won the Miss District of Columbia 2012 in June and was previously crowned Miss Maryland in 2011.

The Miss America pageant will air live from Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas on January 12, 2013 on ABC, when 53 female contestants will compete for the crown.

"To win the pageant would truly have my mother's dreams for me come to fruition," Rose said. "Never once in my life did I doubt my mom's love for me or that she wouldn't do anything to have me succeed in life. Some people will never experience that kind of relationship with a parent."