7 June 2002
Women who inherit changes (mutations) in theBRCA1 orBRCA2 gene are at increased risk of developing breast cancer.
Removing both ovaries and fallopian tubes may be the best chance of protection against breast cancer and other gynaecological cancers in women with the BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations.
International research has found that this prophylactic (disease avoiding) approach improved cancer-free survival more than intensive surveillance.
Two studies in the 23 May issue of the New England Journal of Medicine showed ovarian cancer developed at an average age of 51, thus supporting recommendations that women carrying the mutations undergo prophylactic salpingo-oophorectomy (removal of the ovaries and fallopian tubes in order to avoid disease happening) soon after childbearing.
'The effectiveness of prophylactic oophorectomy in carriers of BRCA mutations provides a strong rationale for genetic testing in women with a strong family history of breast cancer,' an editorialist wrote.
Last Reviewed: 05 June 2002