Ovarian cancer is the growth of cells in the ovaries. The cells are invasive and multiply quickly, harming healthy body tissue. Unfortunately, ovarian cancer often goes undetected until it spreads to the pelvis and stomach. As such, the Ovarian Cancer Research Alliance (OCRA) suggests removing fallopian tubes to reduce the risk of this cancer.
Screenings are largely unsuccessful. They often lead to false positives and unnecessary surgeries or complications. Furthermore, experts state that early detection of this cancer doesn’t improve the likelihood of survival.
In addition, this cancer has different subcategories. The most common type is epithelial ovarian cancer. There is also clear-cell ovarian cancer, which is a large bilateral pelvic mass that contains glycogen with a large clear cytoplasm. Endometriosis is also associated with it. Chemotherapy doesn’t work for it. High-grade serous ovarian cancer is the most common subcategory. It has a high rate of recurrence. Moreover, studies show it’s linked to the BRCA mutation, a genetic marker for breast cancer.
Ovarian cancer does have signs and symptoms. They include abdominal or pelvic pain, bloating, lasting change in bowel movements, pelvic lumps, fatigue, loss of appetite, and weight loss. When you experience these symptoms, it’s best to seek medical attention. However, it can be deadly when detected early. It can also be treatable even after advancing. This is because it depends on the subcategory.
According to the American Cancer Society, 67% of women diagnosed with ovarian cancer will die. It is among the leading causes of death for women in the world. However, it’s rare. That said, women who are child-free or are done having children are encouraged to remove their fallopian tubes to reduce the risk.
Why remove fallopian tubes?
OCRA released a consensus on the removal of fallopian tubes because the fallopian tube is the origin of most serious subtypes, such as high-grade serous cancer. In addition, women are encouraged to find their BRCA status, a marker for increased risk of ovarian cancer. Doctors use swabs or blood tests to monitor the BRCA gene. A strong family history of ovarian cancer also increases the risk of developing it.
There aren’t any successful ways to screen for it. Research shows that a large trial of ovarian cancer screening tests didn’t reduce deaths despite early detection.
The technical term for removing the fallopian tubes is known as opportunistic salpingectomy. Studies show that the procedure is low risk. It also preserves hormone production in premenopausal women. Doing this procedure can reduce the risk of by 90%.
Some people may wonder why mammograms can detect breast cancer, but ovarian cancer has no equivalent. This is because there isn’t yet any technology to detect cancer in the ovaries and fallopian tubes.
How does fallopian tube removal differ from tubal ligation?
A tubal ligation may be recommended for women who want to remain child-free or don’t wish to preserve their fertility. However, tubal ligation involves tying or clamping the tubes to prevent future pregnancies. It doesn’t address the risk of cancerous growth on the tubes. Fallopian tube removal takes three weeks of recovery. It also doesn’t affect menstruation. If you still have a uterus, you can still get pregnant through in vitro fertilisation.
Fallopian tube removal is the complete extraction of the fallopian tubes. Women undergoing gynaecological surgeries such as hysterectomies should consider it the most. Studies show there are over 137 million gynaecological surgeries take place each year worldwide. It’s unlikely there will be a way to successfully screen for ovarian cancer due to the unique biology of the area.
Fallopian tube removal isn’t advisable if you don’t have any upcoming abdominal surgery. Moreover, you don’t need the surgery if you don’t have immediate family members who have gotten ovarian cancer.
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