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Fallopian Tube Removal May Help Lower Ovarian Cancer Risk
By Jagjit Khairah, DO, FACOG, MIGS
Ovarian cancer is the fifth-leading cause of cancer-related deaths among women. Because initial symptoms are subtle and may easily be confused with other conditions, ovarian cancer is often diagnosed at advanced stages when there are fewer treatment options. It’s estimated that every year approximately 19,000 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer and about 13,000 women die of it.
However, there is a glimmer of hope in ovarian cancer prevention. Recent research suggests that removing fallopian tubes, a procedure known as salpingectomy, may help reduce the risk of developing ovarian cancer, although it doesn’t eliminate risk entirely.
The Connection Between Fallopian Tube Removal and Ovarian Cancer
Despite extensive research and effort, the medical community hasn’t been able to pinpoint the cause of ovarian cancer or an effective way to screen for it. However, more recent research has made it clearer that many forms of ovarian cancer may originate in the fallopian tubes. As a result, fallopian tube removal is increasingly becoming standard practice.
Women with a hereditary risk of cancer, including those with BRC1 and BRCA2 gene mutations are at a higher lifetime risk of ovarian cancer. For them, removal of both fallopian tubes may be recommended.
But even women without a known risk for ovarian cancer may benefit from fallopian tube removal. Women who are of average risk for ovarian cancer and who have completed childbearing may be eligible for fallopian tube removal for ovarian cancer prevention. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Society for Gynecologic Oncology support the opportunistic removal of fallopian tubes in patients already undergoing pelvic surgery for other reasons, such a hysterectomy or tubal ligation.
A Same-Day Surgery
Having fallopian tubes removed while having another abdominal surgery is typically straightforward, doesn’t impact hormonal function, and takes only minutes to do without adding significant risk to the surgery. Laparoscopic salpingectomy is considered a low-risk surgery that can be performed as a same-day procedure at a hospital or surgical center.
Recovery usually takes one to three weeks – and possibly longer depending on other procedures being performed at the same time.