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Researchers report no difference in breast cancer characteristics after oophorectomy
Date:5/28/2010

CHICAGO, IL. (May 28, 2010)More than half a million women in the United States undergo a hysterectomy each year and approximately half of those surgeries include removal of the ovaries. Researchers know that removing a woman's ovaries is associated with a reduction in the risk of developing breast cancer, but it has not been clear whether those cancers that do arise in these women differ from breast cancers in the general population. Now, investigators at Fox Chase Cancer Center report that women who have had a bilateral oophorectomy tend to have smaller tumors and to have their tumors detected by mammography rather than by physical exam. The use of hormone therapy after surgery, however, wipes out any difference in tumor size or detection method.

The investigators, led by James R. Nitzkorski, M.D., a surgical oncology fellow at Fox Chase, will present their results at the 46th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology on Saturday, June 5.

"It is helpful to know that tumors that develop after bilateral oophorectomy are not necessarily a more aggressive type of disease," Nitzkorski says. "There was no difference in overall survival or in prognostic factors, such as estrogen receptor status, progesterone receptor status, or HER2/neu status between women who had had an oophorectomy or not."

Removal of a woman's ovaries is associated with an 11% decrease in lifetime risk of breast cancer (the risk reduction associated with the surgery climbs to about 50% in women with a BRCA1/2 mutation). Given that reduction in risk, Nitzkorski and colleagues initially hypothesized that the tumors that do develop in women after a bilateral oophorectomy might be worse than the tumors that arise in the general population because they had to overcome the protective environment that exists in the absence of ovariesthat was not the case.

"I think women can be counseled that although they have developed breast cancer in the protec
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Contact: Diana Quattrone
Diana.Quattrone@fccc.edu
215-728-7784
Fox Chase Cancer Center
Source:Eurekalert

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