August 6, 2009

High-risk women remove breasts, ovaries

Forty percent of women who have a high risk of breast cancer had risk-reducing mastectomies and 45 percent had ovaries removed, British researchers said.

These surgeries are widely used by carriers of BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations to reduce the risk for breast and ovarian cancer. BRCA1 and BRCA2 are gene mutations that indicate an increased risk for breast cancer.

Women have their breasts or ovaries removed based on their risk. It does not always happen immediately after counseling or a genetic test result and can take more than seven years for patients to decide to go forward with surgery, lead researcher Dr. D. Gareth Evans of the University of Manchester in England said in a statement.

We found that older women were much less likely to have a mastectomy, but were more likely to have their ovaries removed.

The finding is published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.