Women go to great lengths to prevent cancer. And local researchers report today just how much those efforts are improving women’s chances of avoiding the disease.
Women who have family history of breast or ovarian cancer can get a genetic test to see if they are at a higher risk of developing the disease.
And for those who test positive, many are opting for drastic preventive measures.
From WHYY’s health and science desk Kerry Grens reports on a study out today [1/13/09] revealing how well that prevention works.
See Kerry Grens’ report: Ovarian cancer treatments
For women with a cancer gene called BRCA, the only effective prevention for ovarian cancer is to actually remove the ovaries.
Ovarian is one of the more dangerous cancers that women can develop.
Timothy Rebbeck, a Penn professor, says more and more women are choosing surgery.
Rebbeck: We don’t know the exact number of women who are undergoing this procedure. We do know that probably too few women are undergoing the procedure if they have these mutations.
That’s because the surgery reduces the risk of ovarian cancer by 80 percent.
In Rebbeck’s latest study in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, ovary removal also cuts the risk of breast cancer in half.
Rebbeck says women more than 35 years old with a BRCA gene should have their ovaries removed. Less than 1 percent of women have the gene.
The next question Rebeck would like to answer in this research is why the surgery doesn’t prevent ovarian cancer 100 percent.