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What Is an Ovarian Cancer Hysterectomy?

By H. Lo
Updated May 17, 2024
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An ovarian cancer hysterectomy is a surgical procedure to treat ovarian cancer, a disease in which cancer begins in the ovaries. In general, during a hysterectomy, a surgeon removes the uterus and cervix, as well as surrounding organs or tissues, depending on where the cancer originated and how far it has spread. For an ovarian cancer hysterectomy, the surgeon removes the uterus and cervix in addition to one or both of the ovaries and associated fallopian tubes. Removal of one ovary and its fallopian tube is called unilateral salpingo-oophorectomy, while removal of both ovaries and fallopian tubes is referred to as bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy.

There are three general types of hysterectomies: total hysterectomy, total hysterectomy with salpingo-oophorectomy, and radical hysterectomy. Unilateral salpingo-oophorectomy and bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy are grouped together under total hysterectomy with salpingo-oopheorectomy. Total hysterectomy involves the removal of the uterus and the cervix, which is the lower part of the uterus. Radical hysterectomy, on the other hand, involves not only the removal of the uterus and cervix, as well as the ovaries and fallopian tubes, but also the removal of nearby tissues and the upper portion of the vagina.

The type of ovarian cancer hysterectomy that a woman receives depends on the stage of her cancer. Unilateral salpingo-oophorectomy is more of an option if the cancer was diagnosed early in its development and has not spread beyond one ovary. A woman might prefer this procedure over a bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy if she is given the choice, since it will save one ovary and fallopian tube. This enables her to still have children if she chooses to do so in the future.

A hysterectomy is performed in various ways. Three ways in which the surgery is done are vaginal hysterectomy, abdominal hysterectomy and laparoscopic hysterectomy. With vaginal hysterectomy, an incision is made in the vagina to take out the uterus; the incision is closed afterward with stitches. In abdominal hysterectomy, a large, low-transverse or vertical incision is made in the abdomen. For a laparoscopic hysterectomy, several small incisions are made in the abdomen to insert surgical instruments, which will cut the uterus into smaller pieces for removal.

Treatment for ovarian cancer might involve more than an ovarian cancer hysterectomy. For example, an omenectomy, a procedure which removes the omentum, a part of the tissue that lines the abdominal wall, might accompany the surgery. In addition, treatment might involve the removal of lymph nodes and tissues for examination. Also, chemotherapy or radiation therapy are additional treatment methods that a woman might also receive for the disease, depending on her individual condition.

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