Older women who are at high risk of developing breast or ovarian cancer should consider having their ovaries removed, a leading expert in Britain suggests.
According to Prof Gareth Evans of Manchester University, ultrasound and blood test screening for ovarian cancer is not reliable and so women who with a family history of the disease should think about having the operation to lower their risk of developing tumours.
Women who have already reached middle-age and finished having children would be most suitable for the procedure, as removal of the ovaries triggers the menopause, he says.
“At the moment they can’t rely on screening. Once they’ve completed their family and if they’re over 40, they should consider having their ovaries removed. It’s a pretty small procedure. You’ve been through the menopause so you’re not going to plunge into hot flushes and other symptoms.
If your life expectancy is 85, you could lose 25 years of your life and die within a year if ovarian cancer hits,” ’The Daily Telegraph’ quoted Prof Gareth Evans of University of Manchester as saying.
According to Prof Evans, his study found that screening by means of an ultrasound scan and blood test fails to detect ovarian cancer at an early stage.
Of the 900 women from Manchester recruited to the study and given screening, 23 developed ovarian cancer but only nine were detected at an early stage. Ten have since died. It also found many older women are currently failing to take measures to lower their risk of developing cancer.
Only 20 per cent of surveyed women, over 60 and half of breast cancer survivors chose to have their ovaries removed within eight years of testing positive for the genetic test.
However, 70 per cent of younger women who had the genetic defect had their ovaries removed.