Information for the public
Surgery to reduce the risk of ovarian cancer
A few women who carry a faulty gene are at higher risk of ovarian cancer as well as breast cancer. Many of these women also decide to have their ovaries and fallopian tubes removed. This operation is called a risk-reducing bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy. Removing the ovaries causes an early menopause, which means that women will not be able to have more children. This should be discussed before the operation.
If you choose to have surgery before the menopause to reduce your risk of ovarian cancer you should be told about the advantages and disadvantages of taking hormone replacement therapy (HRT) after the operation to manage the symptoms of early menopause (such as hot flushes, loss of sex drive, weight gain) and reduce the risk of osteoporosis and heart disease. The discussion should include how HRT can help manage troublesome menopausal symptoms and how HRT may affect your risk of developing breast cancer. The type of HRT offered will depend on whether or not you've also had a hysterectomy (removal of your womb).