According to an article published online by JAMA Oncology, oophorectomy led to a 62% reduction of breast cancer deaths in women diagnosed with breast cancer and carrying BRCA1 gene mutation. The process of removal of ovaries is known as oophorectomy.
It has been established that women who carry a germline mutation in either BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene face a lifetime risk of breast cancer of up to 70 percent. If such women who carry the above mutation are diagnosed with breast cancer, they carry a high risk of suffering from secondary and primary breast and ovarian cancer.
Earlier studies of BRCA gene mutation carriers who have undergone oophorectomy have reported reduced mortality for women with a history of breast cancer.
The latest studies which have been spearheaded by Steven A. Narod, M.D., and Kelly Metcalfe, Ph.D., of the Women’s College Research Institute, Toronto, Canada, seeks to confirm earlier observations in a group of women with BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations and early-stage breast cancer.
The study included 676 women. Of these 345 underwent oophorectomy after being diagnosed with breast cancer. The remaining 331 women diagnosed with breast cancer retained their ovaries.
The study came to the following conclusion:
- 20-year survival for the entire group was 77.4 percent
- 56 percent reduction in breast cancer death associated with oophorectomy
- Oophorectomy was associated with a significant 62% reduction in breast cancer death in women with a BRCA1 mutation
- Women with a BRCA2 mutation had a 43 percent reduction in breast cancer death which was not statistically significant.
- There were nine deaths from ovarian cancer in the group of women who had retained their ovaries
- 65 percent reduction in all-cause mortality associated with oophorectomy in their analysis
The studies revealed that oophorectomies are commonly done 6 years after breast cancer diagnosis. Oophorectomy was performed on 70 BRCA1 carriers, within two years of breast cancer diagnosis; there was a 73% reduction in mortality as compared to women with BRCA1 who did not have any oophorectomy procedure. The authors of the study also stated that the protective effect of on deaths from breast cancer was apparent immediately after diagnosis and lasted for 15 years.
The article concludes, “It is important that follow-up studies be performed on women who undergo oophorectomy as part of their initial treatment, in particular, those women who undergo oophorectomy in the first year after diagnosis. It is also important that our observations be confirmed in other study populations. Further data are needed, in particular for BRCA2 carriers in order to confirm the benefit of oophorectomy in this population.”