Genetic susceptibility testing and prophylactic oophorectomy.
About 10% of ovarian cancer cases are thought to have a hereditary basis and family history is the strongest risk factor for the development of this disease. In the past, prophylactic oophorectomy has been advocated for women with two or more affected first-degree relatives. More recently, with the identification of the genes responsible for most hereditary ovarian cancers (BRCA1, BRCA2), oophorectomy can now be offered specifically to women who are mutation carriers. Conversely, non-carriers in these families can be reassured that their risk of ovarian cancer is not increased. The value of oophorectomy in mutation carriers has not yet been proven, however, and there are concerns that the benefit may be less than intuitively expected. First, although the lifetime risk of ovarian cancer initially was reported to be as high as 60%, more recent studies have reported risks in the range of 15-30%. A better understanding of the genetic and/or environmental basis of variable penetrance is needed to augment our ability to counsel women regarding their risk. In addition, peritoneal papillary serous carcinoma indistinguishable from ovarian cancer occurs in some women following oophorectomy. Studies that better define how often this occurs also are needed to establish more firmly the value of prophylactic oophorectomy. In view of the uncertainty regarding the efficacy of prophylactic oophorectomy, chemopreventive and early detection approaches also deserve consideration as strategies for decreasing ovarian cancer mortality in women who carry mutations in ovarian cancer susceptibility genes.
Berchuck, A; Carney, ME; Futreal, PA
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