Nightly News   |  May 15, 2013

Does ovarian cancer risk necessitate ovary removal?

The risk of ovarian cancer is real, even for women who don’t have a mutation of the BRCA1 gene. There currently isn’t a good screening test for ovarian cancer which means diagnosis sometimes arrives when the disease is in its later stages. For most women, ovaries can be removed endoscopically -- and whether or not the uterus is removed along with it is up to the individual. NBC’s Dr. Nancy Snyderman reports.

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>>> now on this busy night we turn to health news and how it entered the american conversation this week, specifically with the very personal, very public disclosure by angelina jolie that she's undergone a double mastectomy after a test revealed she had a rare gene mutation that greatly increased her risk of developing breast cancer . 87%. as well as ovarian cancer , the disease that killed her mother. a lot of women have been asking in these past 24 hours what about that second step -- removal of the ovaries because of the risk of ovarian cannes. dr. nancy snyderman happenses to be attending a genetics conference in san diego and is with us tonight with answers on the issue. nancy, good evening.

>> reporter: good evening, brian. you're right it's been the buzz even in the medical community because the risk of ovarian cancer is real. 50% more than women who don't have the mutation of the brca-1 gene. in fact, sometimes doctors recommend to women they start with an ovarian removal before they worry about breast cancer because there is no screening test for ovarian cancer which is why the survival rates are so low. in this case, it's likely that for most women who are facing the same situation, ovaries can be removed endoscopically. it's outpatient surgery. whether or not the uterus is removed with it really depends on a woman's choice. this is usually recommended for women who have this severe mutation, family history and they are past their child-bearing age. a combination of really looking at genetics as part of this new wave of personalized medicine . brian?

>> dr. nancy snyderman on this story that's in our news