Genetic >> Prophylactic Oophorectomy to Reduce Breast Cancer Risk
Prophylactic Oophorectomy to Reduce Breast Cancer Risk
Some people with a family history of breast cancer may choose to have their ovaries removed to prevent breast cancer.

According to the American Cancer Society, women who have a family history of breast cancer have an 80% higher risk of getting breast cancer during their lifetime. As a result, some of these high-risk women are choosing to undergo the voluntary removal of their ovaries, called a prophylactic oophorectomy, in order to avoid contracting breast cancer.

Should you consider electing to have your ovaries removed?

Thanks to the advances in genetic research, we know that women who carry the BRCA gene are at a higher risk for breast cancer. This elevated risk is primarily due to a family history of breast cancer in first-degree relatives (such as a mother or sister) diagnosed before the age of 50. Scientists have now discovered that women who carry the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene also have a higher rate of ovarian cancer. While a prophylactic mastectomy or oophorectomy are drastic options sometimes chosen by women with this unusually high breast cancer risk, they are available.

Having your ovaries removed is not an option to be taken lightly, even if you have a strong family history of breast cancer. When a woman's ovaries are removed, their body goes into menopause abruptly rather than the gradual changes that would have otherwise taken place over years. Symptoms include hot flashes, vaginal dryness, bloating and weight gain due to the decreased production of estrogen. This lack of estrogen in the body also elevates the risk of death from cardiovascular disease, increases the incidences of hip fractures, and can increase the occurrence of dementia later in life. Speak with your doctor or healthcare professional if you carry the BRCA gene, have a family history of breast cancer, and want to consider having your ovaries removed. A medical professional can help you weigh the risks and benefits of the procedure.

References and Other Resources:

Mayo Clinic: "Prophylactic oophorectomy: Preventing cancer by surgically removing your ovaries," Mayo Clinic.

American Cancer Society: "Tubal Ligation May Reduce Ovarian Cancer Risk for Certain Women," American Cancer Society.

American Cancer Society: "Does Ovary Removal Lower Breast Cancer Risk?" American Cancer Society.

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