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Surgery for ovarian cancer

surgical oncology

What is surgery?

Surgery is used to diagnose, stage and treat cancer, and to manage certain cancer-related symptoms. At Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA), our experienced surgeons have performed thousands of procedures and will discuss the surgical options that are best suited to your individual needs.

Whether a patient is a candidate for surgery or not depends on factors such as the type, size, location, grade and stage of the tumor, as well as general health factors such as age, physical fitness and other coexisting medical conditions the patient may have.

For many patients, surgery will be combined with other cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy or hormone therapy. These nonsurgical treatments may be administered before surgery (neoadjuvant therapy) or after surgery (adjuvant therapy) to help prevent cancer growth, spread or recurrence.

Early in the treatment planning process, we plan for and proactively manage anticipated side effects from surgery. Our nutritionists, rehabilitation therapists and naturopathic clinicians work together with your surgical oncologist to support healing and quality of life. Our reconstructive surgeons perform procedures to restore the body's appearance and function when needed, at the time of surgery or following surgery.

Surgical oncology

Hysterectomy medical animation

Video: Hysterectomy Medical Animation

Medical animation

Ovariectomy medical animation

Video: Ovariectomy Medical Animation

Medical animation

Surgery for ovarian cancer

The first line in the treatment and diagnosis of ovarian cancer at CTCA is surgery. Our goal during ovarian cancer surgery is to locate and remove as much of the tumor tissue as possible, called debulking, and to understand the extent of the cancer in the ovaries and elsewhere in the abdomen.

During surgery for ovarian cancer, we also collect samples of a variety of tissues to test for the presence of cancer, so we can proactively address any cancer metastasis in your treatment plan.

Ovarian cancer surgical procedures

During the initial debulking surgery, we may perform a variety of procedures, depending on the type and stage of ovarian cancer, as well as your individual fertility concerns.

These procedures may be done one of two ways: During a laparotomy, an incision is made to open up the abdomen. During a laparascopy, small incisions are made in the abdomen. Your ovarian cancer surgical oncology team will discuss the best approach for you, which may include any of the following:

  • Unilateral salpingo-oophorectomy: Surgical removal of one ovary and one fallopian tube.
  • Bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy: Surgical removal of both ovaries and both fallopian tubes.
  • Total hysterectomy: Surgical removal of the uterus, including the cervix.
  • Omentectomy: Surgical removal of part or all of the omentum, a fold of fatty tissue inside the abdomen.
  • Bowel resection: Surgical removal of part of the small or large intestine.
  • Diaphragm or appendix surgery: Surgical removal of part of all of each organ.
  • Lymph node biopsy: Surgical removal of part or all of one or more lymph nodes in the abdomen.
  • Abdominal fluid biopsy: Removal of a fluid sample from the abdomen (if fluid is present) to be sampled and tested. A catheter also may be installed to drain the excess fluid.

Ovarian cancer surgery may be followed by chemotherapy. Often the chemotherapy will be administered directly into the abdominal cavity, known as intraperitoneal chemotherapy. If you are a candidate for this type of chemotherapy, your oncologist will put a thin tube in the abdomen during surgery. Once it heals, chemotherapy treatment will begin.

Addressing fertility concerns

If you want to preserve your fertility, your ovarian cancer surgical oncology team may be able to remove only the affected ovary. Patients battling more complex disease may not be candidates for this option. At CTCA, we will discuss a variety of fertility-sparing procedures with you, including retrieving and freezing your eggs.

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