Gynecological surgery can substantially reduce the risk of ovarian cancer in women at high risk for the condition, according to new research. Researchers say the magnitude of the risk reduction depends upon the type and extent of surgery.
Ovarian cancer has the highest fatality rate of all gynecological cancer and few preventive or screening options. One of the strong predictors of developing ovarian cancer is a family member who has been diagnosed with the disease. Women who carry the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes are also at a greater risk for ovarian cancer. Researchers from the National Cancer Institute conducted a study looking at the history of gynecologic surgery among women with these gene mutations and those who are not carriers.
Researchers report women who were carriers of the gene mutation and non-carriers who had their ovaries surgically removed have a sustained reduction in the risk of both ovarian and peritoneal cancer. Researchers also found tubal ligation and hysterectomy were associated with a 30-percent to 50-percent reduced risk of ovarian cancer. The risk rate was dependent on the type of surgery with surgery to remove some ovarian tissue associated with the greatest risk reduction.
Study authors conclude both BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutation carriers and non-carriers have a reduced risk of ovarian or peritoneal cancer after gynecologic surgery. The authors write, "Clinical decisions for ovarian cancer risk reduction in BRCA mutations carriers will necessarily involve the balancing of potential benefits and harms for each individual women faced with this difficult decision."