Study has drastic recommendation for women with BRCA1 gene mutation

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

DENVER -- A striking study released Monday that recommends women 35 and younger with the BRCA gene mutation, undergo a preventative oophorectomy. That’s removal of the ovaries and fallopian tubes.

There has been a lot of focus on the BRCA gene mutation since Angelina Jolie chose to have a preventative double mastectomy.

The new study, published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, looked at nearly 5,783 women, over 15 years, across seven countries.

For women who carry the BRCA gene mutation and opt to have their ovaries and fallopian tubes removed, researchers found they had an 80% reduction in the risk of cancer.

For women like Rachel Neumann of Denver, that’s enough of a reason to undergo such a drastic procedure.

She tested positive for BRCA and decided to have a double mastectomy and hysterectomy.

“I didn't want to have this risk that I would think about during times I am going to bed at night. I didn't want to be worried about some doctor's appointment I have down the road and what that would be like for my kids,” she said.

Fox31 Denver spoke to Neumann after Angelina Jolie made shock waves with her decision to have a double mastectomy. We also spoke with Dr. Sami Diab of the Rocky Mountain Cancer Center. He pointed out the BRCA gene mutation isn’t that common.

“Only about five percent or so, a small percentage of breast cancer, is related to those two genes. There's a lot of women who don't need to be tested. We don't need to create undue anxiety,” said Dr. Diab.

In fact, only 1.4 percent of women will get ovarian cancer.

But according to the National Cancer Institute, 40 percent of those with the BRCA gene mutation will be diagnosed. For those women, this new study suggests preventative removal of the ovaries and fallopian tubes by age 35.

"It can be difficult to have these conversations with patients,” said genetic counselor Barbara Hamlington.

Another thing to point out, it’s not easy to diagnose ovarian cancer. Some of the main symptoms include bloating and pelvic pain. This is why it’s often caught too late.


  • Bela Barth

    I was especially interested in this story on the news last night as I am currently dealing with breast cancer and being positive for one of the BRCA genetic mutations. However, I felt that that story was not clear on one point. It seemed that the report was equating removal of the fallopian tubes and ovaries and a hysterectomy. There is a big difference, not only in what all is removed but also in the recovery period. But I felt the story was using the two interchangeably.

    Thank you for reporting this – it may not affect too many women, but for those that do have it (or have the chance of having it), it is valuable information.

  • Larissa Catherine (@OctapedFive)

    Thank you for this story. However, you have clearly misrepresented the science in this story. A hysterectomy is removal of the uterus. A salpingo-oophorectomy is removal of the fallopian tubes and ovaries. In your story, you use the term “hysterectomy” to represent both. This is clearly wrong. Please be mindful of your terms, as you are running the risk of confusing people with either a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation.

    In addition, the paper on which you’re reporting clearly states that the benefit of a salpingo-oophorectomy for patients with either a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation has already been demonstrated. What this paper is examining is whether an oophorectomy (bilateral removal of ovaries only) reduces the risk to someone who is BRCA1 or BRCA2 positive.

    What the paper concludes is that “Preventive oophorectomy was associated with an 80% reduction in the risk of ovarian, fallopian tube, or peritoneal cancer in BRCA1 or BRCA2 carriers and a 77% reduction in all-cause mortality.” (Quote taken from the original study.)

    Please adjust your story accordingly. Quite honestly, your lax reporting is not only irresponsible, it’s also frightening.

    Thank you.

Comments are closed.