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Fallopian tube removal & ovarian cancer

by on May 9, 2012

Today, I saw a link to a post on Jezebel entitled “Who Needs Fallopian Tubes Anyway?

Needless to say, I was intrigued and clicked on the link. I wasn’t sure if the story would have anything to do with ovarian cancer, but I had a hunch. That hunch turned out to be correct.

Apparently, some doctors are recommending that women who are considering having their tubes tied to prevent future pregnancies consider removing them instead. This recommendation is based on research on the role of the fallopian tubes in cancer development. In particular, it’s possible that removing only the fallopian tubes (while leaving the ovaries intact) may significantly decrease a woman’s chance of developing ovarian cancer. (Often, both the ovaries and fallopian tubes are removed – and removal of the ovaries creates the risk of early menopause and other issues.)

The post indicated that discussion of preventative fallopian tube removal was relatively common in Canada. One interesting statistic – Dr. Jessica McAlpine, a gynecologic oncologist at Vancouver General Hospital, has estimated that  40 percent of ovarian cancers could have been prevented had the fallopian tubes been removed from everyone with BRCA mutations and those who were getting hysterectomies or getting their tubes tied anyway. A clinical trial would be needed to confirm this hypothesis.

For more on this topic, I recommend you check out the article Jezebel linked to – you can find it here. (I also found a second article on the issue here.)  In addition to more information about the procedure, it also compares this practice in Canada with the more conservative approach (and possible higher mortality rate) in the U.S. It’s a fascinating read.

It’s obviously too early to tell how effective this practice would be, but it’s an intriguing development. What do you think?

-A.J.

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