A recent article in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that women with the breast and ovarian cancer-associated genes, BRCA1 or BRCA2, who undergo preventive surgeries are at decreased risk for cancer and have lower mortality rates than women who chose not to undergo surgery. While this may seem obvious, the success rates of women who undergo prophylactic surgery had not previously been studied on such a scale.
Briefly, the study followed 2,500 women who were identified with high risk mutations for either BRCA1 or BRCA2. Almost half of the women chose to undergo either preventive mastectomy or ovarian removal. Over the following 3 years, the women who underwent surgeries had very low rates of cancer. None of the women with mastectomies developed breast cancer. Women who chose preventative ovarian removal developed breast or ovarian cancer at decreased rates compared to the high risk women with no surgery.
In an associated article, the editors at JAMA commented on the significance of the study and suggest that, from this data, women may consider removing their ovaries-after they complete childbearing. We, at the Oncofertility Consortium, wish the editors had discussed that ovarian removal is also an option for women prior to childbearing. Young women can reduce their risk for cancer and preserve their fertility simultaneously with ovarian tissue cryopreservation. High risk women can find out if this is an option for them by calling the FERTLINE (866-708-FERT) and learn from other women with similar experiences by contacting Bright Pink. For further information on these articles read the Science Life blog.