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Setting the Threshold for Surgical Prevention in Women at Increased Risk of Ovarian Cancer
  1. Ranjit Manchanda, MD, MRCOG, PhD*,, and
  2. Usha Menon, MD, FRCOG
  1. * Barts Cancer Institute, Queen Mary University of London, London, UK;
  2. Department of Gynaecological Oncology, St Bartholomew’s Hospital, London, UK; and
  3. Gynaecological Cancer Research Centre, Department of Women’s Cancer, Institute for Women’s Health, University College London, London, UK.
  1. Address correspondence and reprint requests to Ranjit Manchanda, MD, MRCOG, PhD, Barts Cancer Institute, Queen Mary University of London, Old Anatomy Building, Charterhouse Square, London, EC1M 6BQ, UK. E-mail: r.manchanda{at}


Abstract The number of ovarian cancer cases is predicted to rise by 14% in Europe and 55% worldwide over the next 2 decades. The current absence of a screening program, rising drug/treatment costs, and only marginal improvements in survival seen over the past 30 years suggest the need for maximizing primary surgical prevention to reduce the burden of ovarian cancer. Primary surgical prevention through risk-reducing salpingo-oophorectomy (RRSO) is well established as the most effective method for preventing ovarian cancer. In the UK, it has traditionally been offered to high-risk women (>10% lifetime risk of ovarian cancer) who have completed their family. The cost-effectiveness of RRSO in BRCA1/BRCA2 carriers older than 35 years is well established. Recently, RRSO has been shown to be cost-effective in postmenopausal women at lifetime ovarian cancer risks of 5% or greater and in premenopausal women at lifetime risks greater than 4%. The acceptability, uptake, and satisfaction with RRSO at these intermediate-risk levels remain to be established. Prospective outcome data on risk-reducing salpingectomy and delayed-oophorectomy for preventing ovarian cancer is lacking, and hence, this is best offered for primary prevention within the context and safe environment of a clinical trial. An estimated 63% of ovarian cancers occur in women with greater than 4% lifetime risk and 53% in those with 5% or greater lifetime-risk. Risk-reducing salpingo-oophorectomy can be offered for primary surgical prevention to women at intermediate risk levels (4%–5% to 10%). This includes unaffected women who have completed their family and have RAD51C, RAD51D, or BRIP1 gene mutations; first-degree relatives of women with invasive epithelial ovarian cancer; BRCA mutation–negative women from high-risk breast-and-ovarian cancer or ovarian-cancer-only families. In those with BRCA1, RAD51C/RAD51D/MMR mutations and the occasional families with a history of ovarian cancer in their 40s, surgery needs to be considered at younger than 45. In other moderate-risk gene mutation carriers and those with polygenic risk, RRSO needs be considered at 50. There is need for establishment/expansion of well-defined pathways to increase clinical access to RRSO. It is time to lower the risk threshold for RRSO to enable introduction of a targeted primary prevention approach, which could significantly impact the future burden of ovarian cancer.

  • Ovarian cancer
  • Prevention
  • Risk threshold
  • Surgical prevention
  • Salpingectomy
  • Salpingo-oophorectomy

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