Removing ovaries cuts risk of death in gene carriers (USA Today)

Liz Szabo, USA TODAY 4:03 p.m. EST February 24, 2014

Removing ovaries cuts risk of death but causes serious side effects.

Women who inherit mutations in high-risk genes that sharply increase the risk of breast or ovarian cancer can reduce their risk of death by 77% by having their ovaries removed by age 35, a new study shows.

The study involved mutations in the genes BRCA1 and BRCA2, which cause 5% to 10% of breast cancers and 15% of ovarian cancers, according to the National Cancer Institute.

Up to 70% of women who learn that they carry these mutations choose to have their ovaries removed to reduce the risk of ovarian and breast cancer, research shows.

In the study, in Monday’s Journal of Clinical Oncology, surgery offered different benefits based on the exact mutation.

Women with a mutation in the gene BRCA1 get the clearest benefit to ovary-removal surgery by age 35, says study author Steven Narod, a professor of medicine at the University of Toronto. His study didn’t find any ovarian cancers in women with BRCA2 mutations until age 40. So BRCA2 carriers can likely wait until age 40 for ovarian removal, he says. … [click here to read more]

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