Ovarian Cancer Risk? Should my ovaries be removed?

The question many women who have a family history of ovarian cancer, and who are therefore at higher risk of developing the disease themselves ask is - am I safer having my ovaries removed?

The operation also reduces the risk of breast cancer

Gynaecological Oncologist and Ovarian Cancer Expert, Dr Adam Rosenthal says, "This situation requires expert advice form a gynaecologist with a special interest in this area of medicine. Most gynaecological oncologists (gynaecologists specialising in the treatment of cancer) have experience of advising women with an increased risk of ovarian cancer. In many cases, it is appropriate to offer such women a ‘keyhole’ operation to remove the ovaries and fallopian tubes to prevent the development of cancer".

What is the recommendation with regard to timing?

The advice is that the ovaries and fallopian tubes usually need to be removed before the menopause and therefore women may need to take hormone replacement therapy (which is safe in this situation) to prevent unpleasant symptoms and reduce their future risk of osteoporosis.

Also reduces risk of Breast Cancer

Dr Rosenthal explains,"The operation can also reduce the risk of breast cancer substantially. Clinical Genetics teams usually work closely with expert gynaecologists and can refer you to them. Alternatively, your GP can refer you to a local gynaecologist with a special interest in this area".

Abnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body. Full medical glossary
The basic unit of all living organisms. Full medical glossary
One of two tubes in the female body that connect the ovaries to the uterus. Full medical glossary
Two tubes that transport the egg from the ovary to the uterus. Full medical glossary
A substance produced by a gland in one part of the body and carried by the blood to the organs or tissues where it has an effect. Full medical glossary

The time of a woman’s life when her ovaries stop releasing an egg (ovum) on a monthly cycle, and her periods cease

Full medical glossary
A specialist in the treatment of cancer. Full medical glossary
A condition resulting in brittle bones due to loss of bony tissue. Full medical glossary
relating to the ovaries Full medical glossary
Female reproductive organs situated one on either side of the uterus (womb). They produce egg cells (ova) and hormones in a monthly cycle. Full medical glossary