Surgery

Surgery is usually the first step in treating PPC or FTC and it should be performed by a gynecologic oncologist. The goal of the surgery is the removal of all visible disease because this approach has been shown to improve survival. This process is known as tumor debulking. When all visible disease is removed, or if only small tumor implants (less than 1 cm in diameter) remain, the patient is considered optimally debulked. Occasionally, the location of tumor within the abdomen or the condition of the patient does not allow for optimal debulking surgery to be performed. In this situation, chemotherapy may be given first and the patient might have surgery at a later time. Most surgery is performed using a procedure called a laparotomy during which the surgeon makes a long cut in the wall of the abdomen, although they are also commonly found at laparoscopy. If either PPC or FTC is found, the gynecologic oncologist performs the following procedures:

  • Salpingo-ooophorectomy: both ovaries and fallopian tubes are removed.
  • Hysterectomy: the uterus is removed usually with the attached cervix.
  • Omentectomy: the omentum, a fatty pad of tissue that covers the intestines, is removed.

Occasionally, some of the nearby lymph nodes will be removed. Depending on the surgical findings, more extensive surgery, including removal of portions of the small or large intestine and removal of tumor from the liver, diaphragm and pelvis, may be performed. Removal of as much tumor as possible is one of the most important factors affecting cure rates.

Side Effects of Surgery
Some discomfort is common after surgery. It often can be controlled with medicine. Tell your treatment team if you are experiencing pain. Other possible side effects are:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Infection, fever
  • Wound problem
  • Fullness due to fluid in the abdomen
  • Shortness of breath due to fluid around the lungs
  • Anemia
  • Swelling caused by lymphedema, usually in the legs or arms
  • Blood clots
  • Difficulty urinating or constipation
  • Talk with your doctor if you are concerned about any of the problems listed.

Spotlight

Visit the Sisterhood of Survivorship page to read “Dena’s Story” — by a vulvar cancer survivor who has shared her story and wise words, and channeled her energy into her National Race to End Women’s Cancer team.

Awareness

Vaccine efficacy against vulvar infection with HPV 16/18 was comparable to the efficacy found against cervical infection 4 years after vaccination, according to researchers with the National Cancer Institute.

Research

The Foundation has published its 2014-2015 Research Grants and Awards Booklet with Applications. Please consider applying to become part of an elite group of physician-scientists committed to the well-being of women at risk for/affected by gyn malignancies.

Education

The next Ovarian Cancer Survivors Course will be Saturday, July 26, 2014 in Boston. For more information on courses, click here.