Study: Some women should remove ovaries by age 35

CREATED Feb 25, 2014 - UPDATED: Feb 25, 2014

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MILWAUKEE - A breakthrough study suggests certain women should get their ovaries removed by age 35.

A woman who has a certain genetic mutation is at a higher risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer.

The study says if you get your ovaries removed, your risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer is reduced by as much as 80%.

Jamie Schmidt is only 32 years old. Looking at her smile, you'd never know what she's endured: two battles with ovarian cancer.

"Since about junior year, I was experiencing a lot of pain. What I’d call pain in my ovaries," says Schmidt.

She was 24 when she got ovarian cancer. Two years later, it returned. Her ovaries were removed.  She was never tested for the BRCA1 mutation.

"I hate to say it, but it's one of the best things that've happened to me because it gave me a purpose in life," shares Schmidt.

She a member of the Wisconsin Ovarian Cancer Alliance and now helps others. Doctors say there's not a reliable test for ovarian cancer.   

But those who test positive for the breast cancer gene are at higher risk of developing ovarian cancer.

According to the National Cancer Institute, 1 in 72 women will develop ovarian cancer in her lifetime. Kelli Zembruski lost both her mother and a sister to it.

Kelli is the president of the Wisconsin Ovarian Cancer Alliance.

“There's no test for ovarian cancer,” explains Zembruski. “The only way you know you have ovarian cancer is when they know you've got it. And that's when the tests come in."

Her sister never went through any of the testing to see if she carried the gene.

It motivated Kelly to have the BRCA1 test. She tested negative. She wants other women to take the test to find out, before it's too late.

Kelli had her ovaries taken out when she was in her forties. 

A surgeon at Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare says women with this BRCA1 mutation have a 40% chance of developing ovarian cancer if they don't have the preventative surgery.