Study has drastic recommendation for women with BRCA1 gene mutation

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DENVER — A striking study released Monday that recommends women 35 and younger with the BRCA gene mutation, undergo a preventative oophorectomy. That’s removal of the ovaries and fallopian tubes.

There has been a lot of focus on the BRCA gene mutation since Angelina Jolie chose to have a preventative double mastectomy.

The new study, published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, looked at nearly 5,783 women, over 15 years, across seven countries.

For women who carry the BRCA gene mutation and opt to have their ovaries and fallopian tubes removed, researchers found they had an 80% reduction in the risk of cancer.

For women like Rachel Neumann of Denver, that’s enough of a reason to undergo such a drastic procedure.

She tested positive for BRCA and decided to have a double mastectomy and hysterectomy.

“I didn’t want to have this risk that I would think about during times I am going to bed at night. I didn’t want to be worried about some doctor’s appointment I have down the road and what that would be like for my kids,” she said.

Fox31 Denver spoke to Neumann after Angelina Jolie made shock waves with her decision to have a double mastectomy. We also spoke with Dr. Sami Diab of the Rocky Mountain Cancer Center. He pointed out the BRCA gene mutation isn’t that common.

“Only about five percent or so, a small percentage of breast cancer, is related to those two genes. There’s a lot of women who don’t need to be tested. We don’t need to create undue anxiety,” said Dr. Diab.

In fact, only 1.4 percent of women will get ovarian cancer.

But according to the National Cancer Institute, 40 percent of those with the BRCA gene mutation will be diagnosed. For those women, this new study suggests preventative removal of the ovaries and fallopian tubes by age 35.

“It can be difficult to have these conversations with patients,” said genetic counselor Barbara Hamlington.

Another thing to point out, it’s not easy to diagnose ovarian cancer. Some of the main symptoms include bloating and pelvic pain. This is why it’s often caught too late.