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What Is Ovarian Cancer Surgery?

By Meshell Powell
Updated May 17, 2024
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Ovarian cancer is a type of female cancer in which abnormal cancer cells develop on one or both ovaries. While surgical intervention is the most common form of treatment for this disease, there are several types of ovarian cancer surgery available, depending upon the stage of the cancer and whether the disease has spread into other areas of the reproductive system. Some of the most common types of ovarian cancer surgery include partial or complete removal of one or both ovaries, removal of one or both fallopian tubes, a total hysterectomy, or tumor debulking.

If the cancer is diagnosed in the earliest stages and only involves one ovary, ovarian cancer surgery may only involve the removal of the affected ovary. In some cases, only a portion of the ovary may need to be removed. Occasionally, cancer cells may be present in both ovaries, requiring the surgery to involve both sides of the body. If cancerous tissue is found in the fallopian tubes, one or both of these tubes may need to be removed as well.

Tumor debulking may be used as a form of ovarian cancer surgery if the cancer is clearly isolated to one location. During this surgery, as much of the tumor as possible is removed. It is not always possible to remove the entire tumor, and additional testing or other treatment methods may be required.

A total hysterectomy is among the most commonly used ovarian cancer surgery methods. This is a major surgery in which the uterus is removed, along with the ovaries and fallopian tubes. Depending on how far the cancer has spread, the surrounding lymph nodes may have to be removed as well. This type of ovarian cancer surgery is usually successful at removing all of the cancerous tissue, although additional tests will be performed on a periodic basis to make sure that it does not come back.

Women who want to attempt to preserve fertility may opt to try other types of ovarian cancer surgery before deciding on a hysterectomy. Removing the uterus puts an end to a woman's reproductive years. Hormonal imbalances are common following a hysterectomy and the associated medically-induced menopause. Most women benefit strongly from hormone replacement therapy following this type of surgery. Any questions or concerns about the type of ovarian cancer surgery which is most appropriate in an individual situation should be discussed with a doctor or other medical professional.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

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