For women at high risk of ovarian cancer, prophylactic (or preventative) surgery to remove the ovaries and Fallopian tubes may be an option. The purpose of this surgery is to significantly reduce the chance of developing ovarian cancer. It is important to note that this surgery cannot guarantee the prevention of ovarian cancer, as there is always a very small chance that cancer could develop in other areas of the reproductive system. However, for women at high risk, this surgery may be the best option to reduce their risk as much as possible. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of this preventative measure.
1. Prophylactic ovary removal significantly reduces the risk of ovarian cancer.
2. The surgery can be performed laparoscopically, which is a minimally invasive surgical procedure with a shorter recovery time.
3. For women who have already completed their family, prophylactic ovary removal eliminates the need for additional fertility treatments should they wish to conceive in the future.
4. The surgery may also have the added benefit of reducing the risk of breast cancer.
5. In some cases, insurance companies will cover the cost of the procedure for high-risk women.
6. Women who undergo prophylactic ovary removal can still experience sexual arousal and orgasm after surgery, as orgasm does not require ovulation or eggs.
7. In addition, many women report feeling empowered by taking proactive measures to protect their health through surgery.
1. Although laparoscopic surgery is minimally invasive, it is still major surgery and comes with inherent risks such as infection or bleeding.
2. Complete removal of the ovaries and Fallopian tubes leads to surgical menopause, which can cause hot flashes, vaginal dryness, weight gain, and other symptoms associated with menopause. These symptoms can be managed with hormone therapy, but some women prefer not to take hormones long term due to potential side effects such as blood clots or breast cancer risks.
3. Prophylactic ovary removal will not prevent all cases of ovarian cancer from developing, as there is always a very small chance that cancer could occur in other areas of the reproductive system not removed during surgery (e.g., in residual ovarian tissue left behind or in the peritoneum).
4. The decision to undergo prophylactic ovary removal is often a difficult one, as it means making peace with the possibility that you may never have children or carry a pregnancy to term if you have not done so already. This is a significant consideration for many women who are still young and have not yet completed their families but are at high risk for ovarian cancer due to genetic mutations such as BRCA1/2 or familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP).
5. Insurance companies may not cover the cost of prophylactic ovary removal for all women at high risk for ovarian cancer (e.g., those without genetic mutations), which can make this expensive surgery out-of-pocket for some patients ($8-20k on average).
6. Lastly, it is important to note that even after undergoing prophylactic ovary removal, regular Pap smears and pelvic exams are still recommended to screen for early signs of cervical or endometrial cancers that could develop following surgery.
As you can see, there are both pros and cons to consider before undergoing prophylactic ovary removal surgery to prevent ovarian cancer. This decision ultimately comes down to each individual woman’s values and priorities regarding her health and reproductive future. For some women, undergoing this preventive measure gives them peace of mind and a greater sense of control over their health destiny; for others, managing their disease risk through regular screenings and close surveillance may be a more appealing option given the potential side effects associated with surgical menopause caused by prophylactic ovary removal. There is no right or wrong answer here; it truly depends on what matters most to each individual woman making this decision for herself. Whichever route you choose, be sure to consult with your OB/GYN and/or genetic counselor to learn more about your personal disease risk factors and create a comprehensive plan that meets your unique needs and preferences moving forward!