Preventive Surgery Limits Later Risk Of Cancer Deaths In BRCA Mutation Carriers


Good news for women with BRCA mutations: image via gigaom2.files.wordpress.comGood news for women with BRCA mutations: image via gigaom2.files.wordpress.comWomen who have inherited defects in the BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 genes are at higher risk for developing breast, ovarian and other cancers. Though it has been recommended that these women undergo surgical removal of their ovaries (oophorectomy) as soon as possible, a large multi-national study defines the ages at which actions should be taken.

The Hereditary Ovarian Cancer Clinical Study followed 5,787 women from1995 to 2011 in the United States, Canada, Poland, Norway, Austria, France, and Italy, who were identified as having BRCA mutations.  Oophorectomy had already been performed on 2,123 women before the study began, 1,390 women had the surgery during the study, and 2,274 women did not have the surgery at all.

Results proved the anticipated results - that women carrying  BRCA 1 mutations should undergo oophorectomy before the age of 35. Not only did this surgery reduce the risk of cancer by 80 percent, but it increased the likelihood of living past 70 by 77 percent (better than the benefits of chemotherapy).

"These data is so striking that we believe prophyalactic oophorectomy by age 35 should become a universal standard for women with BRCA 1 mutations," said Steven Narod, professor of medicine at the University of Toronto and lead author of the study.

According to the study, if women wait until the age of 40 to have the oophorectomy, their chances of getting ovarian cancer are raised to 4 percent; if they wait until after age 50, chances go up to 14 percent.  In the general population the chances of getting ovarian cancer are 1.4 percent.

Women with BRCA 2 mutations can wait until after 40 to have the preventive surgery, indicated the researchers, as their risk of ovarian cancer is not as great as those with BRCA 2 mutation.

An earlier study by this same group showed that oophorectomy reduced the risk of developing breast cancer by 48 percent in women with BRAC 1 mutation and lowered the chance of breast cancer death by 70 percent.

Source: American Society of Clinical Oncology