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Genetics Program

BRCA JeneScreen Genetic Screening Program

What can be done about the risk of ovarian cancer if a woman has a BRCA gene fault?

Surgical removal of the ovaries and fallopian tubes at around the age of 40 is the recommended management for women with a BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene fault. Hormone replacement is recommended for most women afterwards, unless they have had a previous breast cancer.

Screening

The aim of screening is to detect cancers at an early stage, before the cancer has spread. Unfortunately tests which are used to diagnose ovarian cancer in women who have symptoms (CA125 blood tests and transvaginal ultrasounds) are not effective in detecting ovarian cancers at a curable stage in women with a BRCA gene fault.

Risk-reducing medication

Taking the oral contraceptive pill for 5 years or more has been shown to reduce the risk of ovarian cancer in both the general population and in women with a BRCA gene fault. However, as ovarian cancer has such a low cure rate, preventive surgery is still recommended

Risk-reducing surgery

Surgical removal of the tubes and ovaries (salpingo-oophorectomy) around the age of 40 is the recommended management for women with a BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene fault. This can usually be done with key-hole surgery (laparoscopy). This surgery results in menopause, so most women are advised to take hormone replacement to minimise the risk of osteoporosis, heart disease and other menopausal complications and to maintain quality of life.

More information about options for women at increased risk of ovarian cancer
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