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Ovary Removal May Not Be Needed in Endometrial Cancer
Date:1/26/2009

In women 45 and younger, study finds no survival difference when ovaries left intact

MONDAY, Jan. 26 (HealthDay News) -- Younger women with early-stage endometrial cancer need not lose their ovaries when undergoing treatment for the cancer, a new study contends.

The largest study to date has found no difference in five-year survival rates among women who kept their ovaries and those who did not. Removal of the ovaries, called an oophorectomy, has long been a standard part of therapy for endometrial cancer.

However, "it appears that this is a safe thing if a woman wants to go ahead and keep her ovaries," said Dr. Jay Brooks, chairman of hematology/oncology at Ochsner Health System in Baton Rouge, La.

As always, though, no one decision is right for all women all the time.

"This is a retrospective study, so it's hard to say for sure that we should change practice based on this," said Dr. Jason D. Wright, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons in New York City and lead author of the study. "But it's definitely a provocative finding, and it does appear that ovarian preservation is safe."

"This is something that needs to be discussed with young women -- that this is available," he added. "Ideally, this would be tested in a prospective study."

The benefits of preserving the ovaries would be considerable. Young women would be spared the discomfort of hot flashes, vaginal dryness and other symptoms of induced menopause before their time. Also, avoiding the procedure would reduce the risk of cardiac disease and bone loss and would probably result in a longer life span.

The findings were published online Jan. 26 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

About 5 percent of endometrial cancer cases occur in women younger than 40. The average age is 60, and removing the ovaries is not really an issue for
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