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Fertility Can Be Preserved in Ovarian Cancer Patients

Conservative approach worthwhile in young women with early-stage malignancy, study shows

MONDAY, Aug. 10 (HealthDay News) -- Saving the uterus or one ovary of a young woman with early-stage ovarian cancer can preserve her fertility without compromising her survival, a new study has found.

Researchers at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons found that survival rates during the first five years following the cancer diagnosis were similar between women who had one ovary or their uterus spared and those who had a hysterectomy (removal of the uterus) or both ovaries removed.

"Given the potential reproductive and non-reproductive benefits of ovarian and uterine preservation, the benefits of conservative surgical management should be considered in young women with ovarian cancer," the authors concluded in their report published in the Sept. 15 issue of Cancer.

A hysterectomy or removal of both ovaries, in addition to ending a woman's reproductive ability, can cause estrogen deprivation that leads to many other health issues, but is often viewed as the best surgical treatment for the cancer, according to information in a news release from Columbia University.

In the study, Dr. Jason Wright and colleagues looked at more than 4,000 ovarian cancer patients, aged 50 or younger, who had surgery for the disease during a six-year period. While only about 400 had an ovary conserved and about 650 had uterine preservation, their survival rates generally matched their counterparts who had the full hysterectomy or ovary removal.

About 17 percent of the more than 21,000 U.S. women diagnosed with ovarian cancer last year were age 40 or younger, the news release noted.

More information

The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more about ovarian cancer.

-- Kevin McKeever

SOURCE: Columbia University, news release, Aug. 10, 2009

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