Women with BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutations who have their ovaries removed preventatively significantly reduce their risk of ovarian, fallopian tube or peritoneal cancer -- by 80% -- according to a new Canadian study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology. The study of 5,783 women carrying one of the mutations also showed that preventive ovary removal -- known as oophorectomy -- reduced the women's risk of dying of any cause before age 70 by 77%. Additionally, the researchers found that BRCA1 mutation carriers have a 1.5% risk of already having ovarian cancer if they remove their ovaries by age 40. That risk of ovarian cancer was estimated at 4.0% if BRCA1 mutation carriers wait until age 40 for oophorectomy, and it jumps to 14.2% if they hold off until age 50. The authors conclude that their findings support the recommendation for BRCA1 mutation carriers to undergo oophorectomy at age 35. In contrast, among BRCA2 mutation carriers, only one case of ovarian cancer was found in a woman younger than 50, suggesting women with this gene mutation can wait longer for surgery. Read the article.

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