Some women at high risk for ovarian cancer undergo a procedure called salpingo-oophorectomy to remove the ovaries and fallopian tubes as a preventive measure, before ovarian cancer has been diagnosed.
At Memorial Sloan Kettering we can perform this procedure on an outpatient basis using a minimally invasive procedure known as laparoscopy. In this approach, a surgeon inserts a thin, tube-like instrument with a camera on its tip (a laparoscope) through the wall of the abdomen. Guided by the camera’s highly magnified image, we perform the operation through very small surgical openings (ports) using tiny instruments.
No surgical procedure is without risks, but our team performs laparoscopy regularly, and our patients generally recovery very quickly. To minimize scarring, we can also often perform this procedure through a single incision in the belly button.
Timing of Ovary Removal Surgery
The best time to have ovary removal surgery depends on your unique situation and life choices, including your current age, your family history, and your desire to bear children.
For women with a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation, we may suggest removing the ovarian and fallopian tubes when a woman is between the ages of 35 and 40, or when child-bearing is complete – whichever comes later. MSK genetic counselors can help you make these decisions.
Since removing the ovaries puts a woman into menopause, we’re studying whether the removal of the fallopian tubes without the ovaries may also reduce the risk of ovarian cancer. Our doctors are leading the charge to develop a national trial to look into this.