As many as one in 400 women test positive for the B-R-C-A, often called the "breast cancer gene." But, aside from that type of cancer, that gene can also sound an alert for ovarian cancer.
A new study at the University of Toronto suggests if women with this gene want to lower their risk for ovarian cancer drastically, they need to have their ovaries removed by age35.
It would, of course, be a difficult decision if women have not had children yet by 35, but that's apparently the age when the risk for developing ovarian cancer starts to climb.
"Removing the ovaries and fallopian tubes really does have a positive impact um on that woman, and reduces her risk of ovarian cancer tremendously and also improves her survival," says Dr. Ursula Matulonis, who works at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute.
This comes after a study of 5,000 B-R-C-A gene carriers. The study found those who had their ovaries removed had an 80% lower chance for developing ovarian cancer, and a 70% reduced risk of an early death. But, having that surgery by the age of 35, means the woman is thrown into immediate menopause.
Women with the B-R-C-A two mutations were able to safely wait until their 40's, to have their ovaries removed, since their risk for ovarian cancer is not as strong.
But there are options; doctors suggest women could plan to save their eggs for future family planning, if they choose to remove their ovaries before they have had children.