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The impact of prophylactic salpingo-oophorectomy on quality of life and psychological distress in women with a BRCA mutation


Women's College Research Institute, 790 Bay Street, Toronto, ON M5G 1N8, Canada. E-mail:



The objective of this study was to measure the impact of prophylactic salpingo-oophorectomy on health-related quality of life and psychological distress in women.


Women who underwent prophylactic salpingo-oophorectomy between August 20, 2003 and June 26, 2008 because of a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation were invited to participate. Participants completed three questionnaires (SF-12® Health Survey, Brief Symptom Inventory and the Impact of Events Scale) before prophylactic surgery and again 1 year after surgery. Measures of health-related quality of life, of general psychological distress and of ovarian cancer worry before and after surgery were compared.


Few women who underwent salpingo-oophorectomy experienced a worsening in physical or mental health functioning after salpingo-oophorectomy. On average, women experienced less ovarian cancer-specific worry after surgery; 34.3% experienced moderate to severe ovarian cancer-specific distress before surgery, compared with 18.6% after surgery.


For most women, physical and mental health-related quality of life did not deteriorate after prophylactic salpingo-oophorectomy, and they were less worried about ovarian cancer. A subset of women continued to experience moderate to severe cancer-specific distress. Identification of these women is important in order to provide continued counseling and support. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.