Angelina Jolie’s decision to undergo a preventive oophorectomy (surgical removal of ovaries) to reduce her risk of developing ovarian cancer has not surprised Archana Vishaye, 48, who took a similar decision in December last year.
Vishaye was detected of carrying BRCA1 mutation in 2013 by doctors at Advanced Centre for Treatment Research and Education in Cancer (ACTREC). “I had already survived cancer twice. I wanted to prevent the cancer and undergoing surgery was the best option,” said Vishaye.
About 50 to 70% of those detected of BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutation undergo an oophorectomy to reduce their risk of developing cancer. “In hereditary breast ovarian cancer syndrome, families and individuals carrying BRCA mutation are counselled about their cancer risk, the degree of protection by removal of organs and its side effects. Removal of breast can’t be advocated strongly in all cases, as with regular screening most breast cancers can be detected in the first stage,” said Dr Rajiv Sarin, in-charge, Cancer Genetics Unit, Tata Memorial Hospital and ACTREC. “However, removal of ovaries and fallopian tubes is strongly advised because the tumour marker blood test and ultrasound scans may be normal, but the person will be diagnosed in the third or fourth stage.”
Doctors said after removal of ovaries and fallopian tubes, the source of estrogen (ovaries) are removed, which also reduces the risk of breast cancer by 50%.
Dr Amita Maheshwari, professor of gynaecology oncology at TMH, said, “Most women after counselling agree to undergo oophorectomy. Others will have to get regular ultrasound tests and CA125 blood test to detect ovarian cancer at the earliest. As it is a silent cancer, an increasing number of women are undergoing a preventive surgery to reduce their risk.”