A study conducted by researchers at the Women’s College Research Institute, Toronto (Canada) shows that women who display a BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutation and are diagnosed with breast cancer can reduce the death risk is they undergo oophorectomy, a procedure which involves the removal of the ovaries. The study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Oncology.
Women who carry BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 gene mutation have 70% chances of developing breast cancer. Once they are diagnosed with breast cancer the risk of developing ovarian cancer is of 50%. Previous research pointed out that oophorectomy can help reducing the mortality rate. Researchers Kelly Metcalfe and Steven A. Narod from the Women’s College Research Institute wanted to verify if this is true.
The study was conducted on 676 women. After having been diagnosed with breast cancer 345 of them underwent the procedure of having their ovaries removed and the remaining 331 subjects retained both ovaries.
The results of the study showed that in the case of the subjects who underwent the procedure women with BRCA1 gene mutation displayed a 62% reduced risk of death caused by breast cancer. In the case of women carrying BRCA2 gene mutation the risk was 43% lower. On average 77.4% the entire group showed 20 years of survival. In the case of the group who did not underwent the procedure there were nine deaths caused by ovarian cancer.
The researchers said that women who underwent oophorectomy should be further analyzed, particularly those women who had their ovaries removed in the first year after breast cancer diagnosis. Moreover in order to confirm the benefits of oophorectomy the present observations must be confirmed in other study populations, especially in the case of BRCA2 carriers.
Chief editor of JAMA Oncology, Mary L. Disis, commented on the findings of the study:
“The results provide a validation of the role of oophorectomy in conveying both a disease-free and overall survival benefit for BRCA1 mutation carriers.”
She also remarked that oophorectomy after breast cancer diagnosis noticeably reduced breast cancer mortality in women with BRCA1 genetic mutation. However the risk was not reduced in the case of women carrying BRCA2 genetic mutation. Even so, the procedure proved to be effective for the survival of women who displayed estrogen receptor-negative breast cancer. Disis concludes that the results are very interesting and believes that oophorectomy should be considered a type of treatment for women carrying BRCA mutation in early stages of breast cancer.
Image Source: Frankly Nelliott MD