Surgery is the main treatment for most types of ovarian cancers. The level of surgery you will be subjected to will depend on whether your cancer has spread, and, if so, how far. It will also depend on your overall level of health. The level of surgery for the ovarian cancer is also decided by whether you are still in your childbearing years, and want to have children. Women who are planning on having children—or more children—who have certain kinds of ovarian tumors, and whose cancer was caught early, may be able to have their ovarian cancer treated without removing both ovaries and the uterus.
If you have epithelial ovarian cancer, the goals of your gynecologic oncologist will be staging and debulking, while if you have a germ cell tumor or a stromal tumor, the main goal will be to remove the tumor. Following is an explanation of staging and debulking for epithelial ovarian cancers.
- Staging epithelial ovarian cancer is done during the surgery to see if the cancer has spread from the ovaries, and, if so, how far. This is usually done by removing the uterus, both ovaries and the fallopian tubes, as well as the omentum, which is a layer of fatty tissue covering the contents of the abdomen like an apron. Often ovarian cancer can spread to this tissue. Lymph nodes in the pelvis and abdomen are biopsied as well, to determine if the ovarian cancer has spread. Any fluid in the abdominal area or the pelvic region will be removed and analyzed. In some cases, the surgeon will use salt water to wash out the abdominal cavity, then send that fluid for analysis. All tissues and fluids will be sent to pathology, and your cancer will be staged. This is extremely important, as your cancer treatment is based on the staging.
- Debulking epithelial ovarian cancer means removing as much as the ovarian tumor as possible. If your ovarian cancer has spread throughout the abdominal cavity, debulking is particularly important. The goal of the surgeon is to leave no tumor behind which is any larger than 1 cm. A patient who has had her tumors optimally debulked has a much better outcome than a patient who has had small parts of the tumor left behind. In some cases, the surgeon may need to remove a piece of the colon in order to properly debulk the tumor. After undergoing staging and debulking, you will generally be in the hospital for up to a week, and may be able to resume your normal activities within 4-6 weeks.
Germ Cell Tumor Surgery and Ovarian Stromal Tumor Surgery
If you are diagnosed with an ovarian germ cell tumor, you will probably have a complete hysterectomy and a bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy. Ovarian stromal tumors are generally confined to one ovary, so the affected ovary will be removed unless the cancer has spread, in which case you may need a hysterectomy, a bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy, and possibly even debulking surgery.
The Controversy over Baby Powder with Talc: Research into Talcum Powder related Ovarian Cancer
There has been a fairly significant amount of research done on the potential link between talcum powder and ovarian cancer. In fact, as far back as the 1970’s, pathologists found talc fibers in the tissues removed from women with ovarian cancer. Since that time, some professionals like Daniel Cramer, MD, have done a considerable amount of research on the subject. Cramer led the first talcum powder ovarian cancer study in 1982 which linked the two, and also testified at one of the Johnson & Johnson trials as an expert witness. Cramer cited 20 case-control studies which support the association between talcum powder and ovarian cancer, as well as a recent study he co-authored which was published in December 2015 in Epidemiology.
Most of these studies concluded there was about a 30 percent increased risk for ovarian cancer when talcum powder is used in the genital region. Cramer also noted there was evidence of a dose-response relationship in some of the studies. In all three of the Johnson & Johnson trials which resulted jurors finding in favor of the plaintiffs, the three women said they had used Johnson & Johnson baby powder with talc and Shower to Shower with talc for thirty to forty years, for feminine hygiene.
Legal Assistance for Victims of Talcum Powder Ovarian Cancer
If you are a victim of ovarian cancer and you believe your diagnosis could be the result of using talcum powder (contained in both baby powder with talc and in “Shower to Shower”) for feminine hygiene, it could be beneficial to speak to an experienced talcum powder ovarian cancer attorney. You can have your questions about talcum powder ovarian cancer answered, and may be entitled to compensation for your injuries.