Pre-emptive surgery to remove a woman's ovaries and fallopian tubes, also known as salpingo-oophorectomy, is typically performed on women at risk of developing ovarian cancer. This risk comes from the BReast CAncer genes 1 and 2 (BRCA genes), which accounts for 15% of all ovarian cancer cases, according to the National Cancer Institute.
This surgery first came into the spotlight when actress Angelina Jolie underwent the procedure last year. Two years prior to that surgery, she had a pre-emptive double mastectomy and reconstruction to reduce her risk of breast cancer. Jolie had tested positive for BRCA 1, which is what ultimately led to her decision to undergo these two surgeries.
For many women, the decision to undergo pre-emptive surgery for the breast and ovaries is a difficult one. Nevertheless, various research studies are demonstrating the importance of having this surgery if the woman in question is affected by one of the BRCA genes.
For example, a recent study by Queen Mary University in London found women over the age of 40 with a lifetime ovarian cancer risk level of 4% or greater could have 43 extra days of life expectancy (on average) with this operation, in combination with hormone replacement therapy.
This is a monumental find considering ovarian cancer is the most lethal of reproductive cancers in women. A number of studies have discovered the following:
- Less than half of ovarian cancer patients survive more than five years after their diagnosis.
- Approximately 152,000 deaths from ovarian cancer occur each year worldwide.
- Ovarian cancer rates are highest in women aged 55-64 years.
- The median age at which women are diagnosed is 63.
Having this surgery could ultimately save a woman’s life. According to the Society of Gynecologic Oncologists, women who have the BRCA genes and undergo pre-emptive surgery reduce their risk of ovarian cancer by 71% to 96%.
Like with any surgical procedure, this surgery can produce some complications for women, especially younger women. The removal of a woman’s reproductive eggs alters the secretion of vital hormones (estrogen and progesterone), which can cause some young women to experience menopause early. Cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, and sexual dysfunction are also possible side effects from the procedure.
If you’d like to learn more about these studies, please visit the following link: http://www.cnn.com/2016/06/27/health/ovarian-cancer-prevention-extends-life/.
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The advice and information contained in this article is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace or counter a physician’s advice or judgment. Please always consult your physician before taking any advice learned here or in any other educational medical material.