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Books: Considering Ovarian Cancer Risk-Reducing Surgery

decision book logoby Carol Cherry

If you’re at high risk for ovarian cancer, you may be struggling with a very tough decision: should you remove your ovaries to reduce your risk? If you’re facing that decision, there’s a new resource just for you. Ovarian Cancer Risk-Reducing Surgery: A Decision-Making Resource was written by Kristine M. Conner and health professionals from Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia.

The team at Fox Chase identified a clear need for this resource. While caring for women after oophorectomy (surgical removal of ovaries), they discovered patients felt differently, both physically and emotionally, but it wasn’t clear why. In some cases, women were unprepared for the intense post-surgical side effects of menopause. So Fox Chase organized focus groups to ask women and their partners about their experiences and what they wished they had known prior to surgery. Women suggested more information was needed about the pros and cons of surgery, different surgical options, and how “surgical menopause” compares to natural menopause. They also wanted to hear about other women’s experiences with the surgery.

The resource is divided into five sections:

  • Understanding your risk of ovarian cancer
  • Considering risk-reducing surgery
  • What you need to know if you want to have risk-reducing surgery
  • What you need to know if you do not want to have surgery now
  • Sexuality and intimate relationships after risk-reducing surgery

Each section ends with a list of questions readers can discuss with their healthcare team. Resources for additional information and numerous real-life quotes are found throughout the text. There is also space for journaling, so women can write their personal preferences as part of the decision-making process.

FORCE Executive Director Sue Friedman was an early reviewer of the manuscript, and provided input to the final version. The book is free upon request. Just send an email to surgerybook@fccc.edu. Include your name, mailing address and reason for wanting the book.

Carol Cherry, MSN, RN, OCN, is an oncology nurse and project manager in the Family Risk Assessment Program at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia. Her work focuses on ovarian cancer riskreduction research and education.

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