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Ovarian Cancer: How Can Women Prevent This Condition? - Dr. Magtibay

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Dr. Magtibay, a gynecologic cancer specialist, explains what women can do to prevent ovarian cancer. Dr. Paul Magtibay is an oncologist at Mayo Clinic in Phoenix, Arizona.

Dr. Magtibay:
There are potential preventive measures for ovarian cancer. For example, women who take birth control pills. We know that birth control pills, when taken on a long-term basis, will reduce a woman’s risk of ovarian cancer dramatically.

We talked about women who are at high risk for ovarian cancer such as the BRCA-1 and 2 women who have genetic mutations that put them at increased risk for developing ovarian cancer. Until they are ready to have children we may recommend that they go on birth control pills to reduce her risk of developing ovarian cancer.

Then, for example, after the woman is done with childbearing, we may recommend that she undergo a prophylactic or a preventative surgical procedure to remove the ovaries, with or without the uterus, in order to prevent ovarian cancer from developing in her, as well.

Removal of the ovaries is referred to from a medical standpoint as an oophorectomy. Removal of the tubes and ovaries, which are almost always done together, we remove the ovaries and the fallopian tubes because the fallopian tubes can get cancer in them as well, is called a salpingo-oophorectomy.

There is a misconception regarding what is a total hysterectomy. A lot of patients will come in and tell me that they had a total hysterectomy, implying with them thinking that that means their uterus is removed and the tubes in the ovaries are removed.

Technically speaking from a medical standpoint, a total hysterectomy means we remove the uterus along with the cervix or the mouth of the uterus itself, but it has nothing to do with the ovaries itself. Technically speaking, we would call that a hysterectomy and bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy where we remove the uterus, the cervix, the ovaries and the fallopian tubes.

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