Prophylactic removal of the ovaries is considered after childbearing is complete in women who carry a BRCA 1 or 2 mutation.
These women have a high chance of developing ovarian cancer in their lifetime, and it is beneficial to remove the ovaries prophylactically in these women. It is usually safe to wait until after these patients complete their childbearing but by age 35-40 the ovaries should be removed.
Ovarian cancer may actually start in the fallopian tube and these women are at increased risk of tubal cancer as well, so removal of the tubes is imperative as well. Removal of the tubes and ovaries reduces the risk of getting ovarian cancer by about 95-97%. It is not 100% because the patient can still get peritoneal cancer, which behaves very similarly to ovarian cancer.
The peritoneum which is like the hefty garbage bag that lines the abdomen and holds all of the organs is derived embryologically from the same tissue as the surface of the ovary.
Some women have other genetic mutations such as Lynch that warrant removal of tubes, ovaries and uterus, and other women have no genetic mutations but have a strong family history of ovarian cancer and have their ovaries removed preventatively as well. Discuss your particular case with your doctor to see what is right for you.
Have questions about taking out your ovaries?
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