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Survivors of Rare Ovarian Cancer may Retain Menstrual Function and Reproductive Ability

y women, all acquaintances of the survivors. Both the survivors and the acquaintances filled out questionnaires, and were matched for age, race, and education.

Seventy-one of the 132 survivors had fertility-sparing surgery as part of their treatment. The researchers noted that of the 71 patients who had fertility-sparing surgery, 62 women (87 per cent) were still having menstrual periods and 24 survivors had given birth to 37 babies.

"At the time of the study, the median survivor's age was just 35.5 years - this is a very young cohort of survivors. One can only assume that the women will have, or likely already have had, more children since the study," says Dr. Gershenson.

It was also observed that as compared to the healthy women, germ cell tumour survivors had significantly greater reproductive concerns and experienced less sexual pleasure and more sexual discomfort, although the survivors were more likely to be in partnered, meaningful relationships.

"The finding should allow oncologists and therapists to better inform and counsel patients and their families about expectations in the perioperative period, during primary treatment and long term. Ultimately as a cancer community, we need to develop better interventions and pay much more attention to both the psycho-social and fertility issues of our patients," says Dr. Gershenson.

He also stressed the importance of having fertility-sparing surgery performed by a board-certified gynaecological oncologist who understands the clinical behaviour of ovarian germ cell tumours, and who is trained to optimise patients' probability of undergoing appropriate surgery and chemotherapy.

"Still in 2007, despite medical advances, too many of these patients are operated on by general obstetricians and gynaecologists or general surgeons who do not make a proper diagnosis during surgery, or may not truly understand the biology of this disease. As a r
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