Ovarian Cancer Surgery

What Are the Risks?

Side effects and risks associated with surgery for ovarian cancer can include:
  • Short-term pain and tenderness in the area of the operation. Discomfort or pain after surgery can be controlled with medicine, and patients should feel free to discuss pain relief with their doctor.
  • Difficulty emptying the bladder and having bowel movements for several days after surgery.
  • When both ovaries are removed, a woman loses her ability to become pregnant. Some women may experience feelings of loss that may make intimacy difficult. Counseling or support for both the patient and her partner may be helpful.
  • Menopause. When both ovaries are removed, the body's natural source of estrogen and progesterone is lost. Symptoms of menopause, such as hot flashes and vaginal dryness, are likely to appear soon after the ovarian cancer surgery. Some form of hormone replacement therapy may be used to ease such symptoms. Deciding whether to use it is a personal choice; women with ovarian cancer should discuss with their doctors the possible risks and benefits of using hormone replacement therapy.

Final Thoughts

Even if the doctor removes all ovarian cancer that can be seen at the time of the operation, the patient may be given chemotherapy after surgery to kill any tumor cells that are left. Treatment given after ovarian cancer surgery to increase the chances of a cure is called adjuvant therapy.
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