Updated: 03/24/2014 4:59 PM
Created: 03/24/2014 4:58 PM WDIO.com
By: MARILYNN MARCHIONE, AP Chief Medical Writer
Women with a faulty breast cancer gene might face a greater chance of rare but deadly uterine tumors despite having their ovaries removed to lower their main cancer risks, doctors are reporting.
A study of nearly 300 women with bad BRCA1 genes found four cases of aggressive uterine cancers years after they had preventive surgery to remove their ovaries. That rate is 26 times greater than expected.
"One can happen. Two all of a sudden raises eyebrows," and four is highly suspicious, said Dr. Noah Kauff of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York.
His study, reported Monday at a cancer conference in Florida, is the first to make this link. Although it's not enough evidence to change practice now, doctors say women with these gene mutations should be told of the results and consider having their uterus removed along with their ovaries.
"It's important for women to have that information ... but I think it's too early to strongly recommend to patients that they undergo a hysterectomy" until more research confirms the finding, said Dr. Karen Lu, a specialist in women's cancers at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.
She plans to study similar patients at her own hospital, the nation's largest cancer center, to see if they, too, have higher uterine cancer risks.
About 1 in 400 women in the U.S., and more of eastern European descent, have faulty BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes that greatly raise their risks for breast and ovarian cancer. Doctors advise them to be screened early and often for breast cancer, and to have their ovaries out as soon as they have finished having children to help prevent ovarian and breast cancer, because ovarian hormones affect breast cancer as well.
But the role of BRCA genes in uterine cancer isn't known, Kauff said.
His study looked at 1,200 women diagnosed with BRCA gene mutations since 1995 at Sloan Kettering. Doctors were able to track 525 of them for many years after they had surgery that removed their ovaries but left the uterus intact.
The vast majority of uterine cancers are low-risk types usually cured with surgery alone. Aggressive forms account for only 10 to 15 percent of cases but more than half of uterine cancer deaths.
Researchers were alarmed to see four of these cases among the 296 women with BRCA1 mutations. None were seen in women with BRCA2 mutations, Kauff said.
The study was discussed Monday at the Society of Gynecologic Oncology's annual meeting in Tampa, Fla.
Last year, the actress Angelina Jolie revealed she had preventive surgery to remove both breasts because of a BRCA1 mutation. Her mother had breast cancer and died of ovarian cancer, and her maternal grandmother also had ovarian cancer.
(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
Thousands Flock for Two Harbors Beargrease Marathon Start
About 45 teams of mushers and dogs took off on the John Beargrease Marathon trail in Two Harbors Sunday afternoon to cheers from thousands of spectators, despite a departure from the traditional race start at Duluth East High School...
Wisconsin Lawmaker Hopes to End 'Vaping' Indoors
Lawmakers are set to reignite conversations this week about whether vaping - using electronic cigarettes and other vapor smoking devices - should be included in Wisconsin's smoking ban. The ban took effect in 2010. It outlaws smoking in all public indoor locations, including restaurants and bars.
Campground Fees Rise this Year at Michigan State Parks
Fees at state-operated campgrounds in Michigan are going up this year to cover higher costs and pay for maintenance projects. Parks and recreation chief Ron Olson of the Department of Natural Resources says the amount of the increase at a particular site depends on its popularity.
Minnesota Guard Not Going to Liberia After All
Members of the Minnesota National Guard have learned they won't be going to Liberia to help the U.S. military's response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. Soldiers from the Rosemount-based 34th Red Bull Infantry Division were supposed to go to Liberia this year in support of Operation United Assistance.
One Man Dead After Car Accident in Aitkin County
A 47-year-old man died after his vehicle was broadsided in east-central Minnesota on Saturday night. The incident happened at the intersection of Highway 18 and Highway 65 in Aitkin County at 9:35 p.m.