BRCA1 and Ovary Removal

BRCA1 and Ovary Removal

Women with genetic mutations involving genes  BRCA 1 or BRCA 2 face difficult decisions once the mutation is known. We’ve previously posted information on the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genetic mutations and their implications/potential management with respect to breast cancer. Today, we will focus on a new study which may help women decide on management options in terms of their ovarian cancer risk.


While often spoken of in tandem, BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 are actually different genes, with different implications for risk of development of breast and ovarian cancers.  In a recent study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, women with the mutations were evaluated for ovarian cancer risk, prophylactic surgeries and mortality rates.


What they concluded was interesting: “Preventive oophorectomy [surgical removal of the ovaries] was associated with an 80% reduction in the risk of ovarian, fallopian tube, or peritoneal cancer in BRCA1 or BRCA2 carriers and a 77% reduction in all-cause mortality.”


Additionally, the study showed different timelines may be relevant depending on your genetic mutation. Women with BRCA 1 mutations demonstrated a clear benefit when both ovaries were removed by age 35. For women with BRCA 2 mutations, there were no ovarian cancers prior to the age of 40 in their study group of 5800 women. Later age at preventive surgery may be possible for BRCA 2 mutation carriers.


This new information should help women with BRCA mutations facing difficult decisions on whether and when to have their ovaries removed in the management of their cancer risk.



Image credit: Uterus Embroidery Hoop Art by Hey Paul Studios via Flickr Copyright Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

Originally published 3/6/14 on