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Fertility Center

Dr. Bird on the Implications of Ovary Removal Surgery

Earlier this year, the University of Toronto released the results of a study of 5,787 women with either the BRCA 1 or BRCA 2 gene, the genetic mutation associated with an increased risk for breast and ovarian cancer. According to the Wall Street Journal:

Those without cancer when they enrolled in the study and who also underwent surgery to remove their ovaries reduced their risk of ovarian and related cancers by 80% and their risk of dying from any cause by age 70 by 77%.

Dr. Bird shared his thoughts on the study and the implications of women having their ovaries removed to reduce cancer risk:

Recent research in Canada indicates that removal of ovaries in women with a common genetic disorder (BRCA 1 and 2 mutations) can reduce the risk of ovarian and breast cancer significantly if performed by 35 years of age. Unfortunately, this will prevent women from experiencing the joy of bearing genetic offspring, increase the onset of menopause, and expose individuals to the common risks of surgery, such as bleeding, infection, postoperative recovery, and loss of time at work.

Whenever a decision is made to remove an organ, these consequences must be weighed against the potential to reduce the risk of life-threatening conditions such as breast or ovarian cancer. When the decision is made to proceed with surgery, fortunately, advances in reproductive technology offer these women an opportunity to cryopreserve their eggs before ovarian removal for later use when their career or relationship allows for family development. Now, the discussion can revolve around the timing of family development instead of the fear of cancer versus loss of fertility potential.

At the Fertility Center, we can test you for these mutations and perform oocyte (egg) freezing to help you preserve your fertility. If you are facing this difficult decision based upon your family history and recent diagnosis of BRCA 1 and/or BRCA 2 mutation, let us help you become educated on your options for therapy and preservation of your fertility potential.