Preventive surgery to remove the ovaries might be an option that people with a high risk of ovarian cancer and breast cancer might consider to reduce their risk. Preventive (prophylactic) bilateral oophorectomy carries benefits and risks that must be carefully balanced when considering this procedure.
In an oophorectomy, a surgeon removes both your ovaries — the almond-shaped organs on each side of your uterus. Your ovaries contain eggs and secrete the hormones that control your reproductive cycle.
If you haven’t experienced menopause, removing your ovaries greatly reduces the amount of the hormones estrogen and progesterone circulating in your body. This surgery can halt or slow breast cancers that need these hormones to grow.
Women with BRCA gene mutations usually also have their fallopian tubes removed at the same time the ovaries are removed (risk-reducing bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy) since they have an increased risk of fallopian tube cancer as well.