Post-child-bearing fallopian tube removal may prevent ovarian cancer

Dec 21, 2016 at 11:32 a.m. ET
Image: Sohel_Parvez_Haque/Getty Images

Women who are done bearing children and decide to have their fallopian tubes removed may also be taking a step toward prevention of ovarian cancer.

Experts are studying the fallopian tubes — the two thin tubes that connect the ovaries to the uterus — as a point of origin for one of the deadliest forms of cancer. They are hopeful that removing them with a procedure called an salpingectomy can minimize the risk of developing ovarian cancer.

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And another upside to this promising research is that most doctors now believe the risks associated with the removal of the fallopian tubes appear to be minimal according to a study by Kaiser Permanente Northern California, which was published this summer in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology.

This research is especially significant because an estimated 1 woman in 75 will develop ovarian cancer during her lifetime.

More: 5 questions to ask about breast and ovarian cancer during your annual checkup

The American Cancer Society estimates that there will be over 22,280 new cases of ovarian cancer diagnosed this year and that more than 14,240 women will die from ovarian cancer this year.

Routine screening tests for ovarian cancer have left doctors less than optimistic about treatment because the early signs and symptoms are often hard to identify. And many women are diagnosed in later stages when the cancer is much more aggressive and harder to treat.

More: How to find the best doctor for ovarian cancer

As a result, Lisa Schlager, vice president of community affairs and public policy for Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered, said she thinks more doctors are recommending salpingectomy as an interim step for high-risk women in their 30s.

“If you want to have children and don’t want to be plunged into surgical menopause, the options are: do nothing, do imperfect screening or in-between,” she said. “That in-between is salpingectomy.”

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