Psychological Impact of Prophylactic Oophorectomy in Women at Increased Risk of Developing Ovarian Cancer: A Prospective Study

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Objectives. The objectives of this study were twofold: to prospectively assess whether expressed intention to undergo prophylactic oophorectomy translated into uptake and to evaluate the psychological impact of the procedure in a sample of unaffected women with a strong family history of breast/ovarian cancer. Methods. Ninety-five women, initially assessed at the time of their first attendance at a familial cancer clinic, were followed-up 3 years later. A total of 22 women (23.2%) in this study had undergone a prophylactic oophorectomy. Ten women (10.5%) who had undergone a prophylactic oophorectomy during the 3-year follow-up period were compared to 73 women (76.9%) who did not have a prophylactic oophorectomy. Twelve women (12.6%) who had the procedure prior to study entry were also assessed for psychological adjustment and associated information needs. Results. Age emerged as a significant predictor of uptake of prophylactic oophorectomy (x2 = 7.13, F = 0.009). Among those who had the procedure after study entry, a significant reduction in ovarian cancer anxiety was observed (Z = -2.19, F = 0.029). Of the 22 women who had undergone a prophylactic oophorectomy in total (both before and after study entry), 86.4% reported a high degree of satisfaction with their decision to have the procedure. A low level of screening uptake was also reported by women who did not have a prophylactic oophorectomy but for whom screening was recommended. Conclusion. Findings demonstrate that prophylactic oophorectomy is successful in reducing anxiety about ovarian cancer. The results also suggest that women perceive that the benefit of anxiety reduction may outweigh the potentially adverse effects of the procedure, given that women expressed a high level of satisfaction with their decision.
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Tiller, K
Meiser, Bettina
Butow, P
Clifton, M
Thewes, B
Freidlander, M
Tucker, K
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Journal Article
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UNSW Faculty