Young women diagnosed with an early stage of ovarian cancer may be able to have surgery for the disease without losing their fertility.
Traditionally, treatment of ovarian cancer involves removal of both ovaries and the uterus, which puts younger women into menopause and ends their chances of bearing a child.
But a study published Monday in the journal Cancer, by researchers at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, showed that five-year survival rates for stage 1 ovarian cancer patients were the same for women who had both ovaries removed and women who had just the cancerous ovary removed.
The five-year survival rates were also similar among women who had the uterus removed compared to those who didn’t.
“If the woman is young, pre-menopausal and is considering future childbearing, she does not need a hysterectomy,” said Dr. Beth Y. Karlan, director of the Women’s Cancer Research Institute at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. Karlan was not involved in the research. “It is safe to do a conservation procedure and still affect cure and allow the woman to appreciate her life goals.”
Ovarian cancer, the fifth-leading cause of cancer deaths in women, occurs most often in post-menopausal women and is often detected only after it’s advanced. However, up to 17 percent of ovarian cancers occur in women age 40 or younger.