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Ovary Removal Protects Some High-Risk Women
Date:2/12/2008

BRCA2 carriers get twice the reduction in breast cancer risk that BRCA1 carriers do, study finds

TUESDAY, Feb. 12 (HealthDay News) -- Women who carry the BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations that raise the risk for both breast and ovarian cancer should weigh a new finding that suggests having your ovaries removed provides greater protection against breast cancer if you have the BRCA2 mutation.

The preventive strategy has long been contemplated by women in this high-risk category, and this latest research might help women trying to decide whether to have the procedure, said study author Dr. Noah Kauff, a gynecologist, geneticist and assistant attending physician at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City.

"There have been studies that looked at BRCA1 and 2 together, but not 2 alone," Kauff noted. His study is published in the March issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Women with an inherited BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation have up to an 80 percent chance of developing breast cancer in their lifetime, according to the American Cancer Society, compared to a lifetime risk of about 12 percent in the general population.

Carriers of BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations also have an increased risk of ovarian cancer, cancer of the fallopian tubes and another gynecologic cancer called primary peritoneal cancer. The lifetime risk of ovarian cancer for those with BRCA1 mutation is up to 46 percent, and for those with BRCA2 mutations it is up to 27 percent, compared to about a 1.5 percent risk in the general population.

Kauff and his colleagues recruited women from 11 centers across the country in late 2004. For an average of three years, they followed 509 women aged 30 or older who had a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation and had the ovary removal surgery (oophorectomy), comparing them with 283 women who also had the mutations but did not elect to have the surgery.

"In the women who elected oophorectomy, if we
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