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According to an article recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, surgery to remove the ovaries and fallopian tubes reduces the risk of developing ovarian or fallopian tube cancers by 80% among women with BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations.

BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations are known genetic abnormalities that significantly increase the risk for developing ovarian cancer, breast cancer, fallopian tube cancers, and peritoneal cancers. Researchers are evaluating ways to best manage women with these mutations; areas of study include reducing risk of developing cancers while maintaining quality of life.

Many women with BRCA1 or 2 mutations elect to undergo radical surgeries to remove their breasts and/or ovaries and fallopian tubes. Surgery to remove the ovaries and fallopian tubes (small tubes from which the egg travels from the ovary to the uterus) is called a bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy. Researchers continue to evaluate quality of life issues and actual risk reduction of specific cancers among women who undergo these surgical procedures.

Researchers from the U.S., Canada, Europe, and Israel recently evaluated updated data from a trial including 1,828 women with BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations, with an average follow-up of approximately 3.5 years. Thirty percent of these women had already undergone a bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy at the time they had entered the study, 27% had undergone the procedure after entering the study, and 43% did not have the surgery.

  • Patients who had undergone a bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy had an 80% reduced risk of developing ovarian or fallopian tube cancers compared to women who had not undergone the surgery.
  • The risk of peritoneal cancer (cancer of the lining of the abdominal cavity) was reduced with a bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy; however, the risk of developing peritoneal cancer remained at 4.3%.
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The researchers concluded that a bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy drastically reduces the risk of developing ovarian, fallopian tube, and peritoneal cancers among women with BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations. Patients with these mutations should discuss their individual risks and benefits of this surgery with their physicians.

Reference: Finch A, Beiner M, Lubinski J, et al. Salpingo-oophorectomy and the Risk of Ovarian, Fallopian Tube, and Peritoneal Cancers in Women with a BRCA1 or BRCA2 Mutation. Journal of the American Medical Association. 2006; 296:185-192.

Related News:

Effect of Preventive Removal of the Ovaries Varies by Type of BRCA Mutation (6/13/2006)

Prophylactic Removal of Ovaries Improves Survival in BRCA1 or BRCA2 Carriers (2/16/2006)

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