Ovarian Cancer Surgery

Recommended treatment for most ovarian cancers includes a laparotomy, a surgical procedure that involves an incision in the wall of the abdomen. Through this incision, surgeons will have access to the ovaries and the entire abdominal cavity. The surgeon will take samples of tissue from the pelvis and abdomen and will remove nearby lymph nodes and all areas affected by cancer, which may include:

  • both ovaries and fallopian tubes (salpingo-oophorectomy)
  • the uterus (hysterectomy)
  • the omentum (the thin, fatty pad of tissue that covers the intestines)

Diagnostic images and pathology reports provide an accurate guide for surgery, however as the procedure progresses, your surgeon may find that the cancer has spread and more tissue removal is necessary. The process of removing cancerous tissue is called “debulking.” The more cancerous tissue is removed, the higher the survival rate. Roswell Park surgeons consistently rank among the leading surgeons in the nation for “debulking” surgery, achieving a 75 percent removal rate.

The extent of surgery performed may also be determined by your desire to have children and the nature of your cancer. If you have early stage ovarian cancer, you may have the option of limiting surgery to the removal of one ovary, one fallopian tube and the omentum. It is important to discuss your options and communicate openly with your physician about your preferences prior to any procedure.

Laparoscopic and Robot-Assisted Surgery

Robotic surgery has changed the game for complicated surgeries. Dr. Frederick explains how this minimally invasive approach drastically improves quality of life for gynecologic cancer patients.

Many women with early stage cervical cancer are candidates for minimally invasive surgery because of the precision offered by robotic tools. RPCI launched its robotics program in 2004, when the Institute became the first facility in the region to offer robot-assisted surgery. Since then, Roswell Park surgeons have performed more than 1,500 surgeries using robotics, and the Institute has become a worldwide leader in the field of robotic surgical training.

By combining the skill and judgment of our surgeons with the enhanced flexibility and precision of the robotic tools, we are able to perform a total hysterectomy, bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy and remove necessary lymph nodes without the large incision required in traditional open surgery. The advantages of this approach include: reduced risk of infection, less blood loss, less pain, faster recovery times and shorter hospital stays.

Learn more about robotic surgery in the treatment of ovarian cancer.