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Hereditary Cancer Info > Risk Management > Surgical Removal of Ovaries & Tubes

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Surgical Removal of Ovaries & Tubes

Learn about the steps that people at high risk for cancer can take to manage their risk and protect their health.

Choice of surgeons

A high-risk woman undergoing risk-reducing oophorectomy may have ovarian or falllopian tube cancer found at the time of surgery, even when she shows no signs of ovarian cancer. Therefore the surgeon should follow a special protocol to identify any abnormalities and also be prepared to perform full staging if an ovarian cancer is seen. The specific protocol for risk-reducing salpingo-oophorectomy for high-risk women involves:

  • exploring the pelvic organs for any evidence of cancer
  • performing a peritoneal wash (the pelvis is bathed in fluid and the fluid is collected to look for any cancer cells that may be in the abdomen)
  • removal of the ovaries and fallopian tubes in their entirety.

Although an experienced gynecologic surgeon can perform an oophorectomy, it is important for a surgeon to be familiar with this high-risk protocol and have experience in risk-reducing salpingo-oophorectomy for high-risk women. Many facilities refer high-risk women to specialists known as gynecologic oncologists: although these specialists often treat ovarian cancer, they are also trained in spotting abnormalities that might indicate cancer, are familiar with the high-risk protocol which should be followed for prophylactic surgery and can perform full staging if a cancer is found. Some facilities will schedule risk-reducing salpingo-oophorectomy with a gynecologist, but will have a gynecologic oncologist available in case an abnormality is found. You can find a gynecologic oncologist near you through the Foundation for Women's Cancer website.

Updated 12/29/2016

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