Can Women with Borderline Ovarian Tumors Conceive Following Fertility Surgery?

Doctor with pink awareness ribbon talking to patient about ovarian cancer

Can Women with Borderline Ovarian Tumors Conceive Following Fertility Surgery?

Women receiving fertility-saving surgery (FSS) for borderline ovarian tumors are still able to conceive, according to scientific findings published in Fertility & Sterility.

Ovarian cancer is a disease in which — depending on the type and stage — cancerous cells are found inside, near, or on the ovaries’ outer layer. Up to one-third of borderline ovarian tumors (BOT), representing 10-20 percent of all ovarian tumors, are diagnosed in women under 40 years of age.

Fertility surgery to preserve the uterus and parts of the ovaries is the most common option for women wishing to preserve fertility. In the study reviewed here, fertility was preserved in most of the women and only a small proportion required assisted reproductive IVF treatment.

“The ability to become pregnant seems to be preserved with fertility-sparing surgery, a knowledge that is critical for the advice and treatment given to young women with borderline ovarian tumors,” stated Gry Johansen, a doctoral student at the Department of Oncology-Pathology, Karolinska Institute.

The Study: Ovarian Cancer, Tumors, and Fertility

The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2020 — over 20,000 new cases of ovarian cancer will be diagnosed and just under 14,000 women will die of ovarian cancer in the United States. In Sweden, every year, 700 women develop ovarian cancer.

In a study based on Sweden’s healthcare registers, 277 women between the ages of 18 and 40 received fertility-saving surgery (FSS) for early-stage borderline ovarian tumors (BOT) between 2008-2015.

The study was created to evaluate the effectiveness of fertility-sparing surgery in terms of reproductive outcomes by following FSS for BOTs — comparing the safety of FSS versus more extensive cancer treatment.

By the numbers (study supported by grants from the Swedish Cancer Society):

  • Of the 213 women who underwent fertility-saving surgery for BOT between 2008-2015 in Sweden, 23 percent had given birth to 62 babies after treatment
  • 20 women, or 9 percent of the group, had undergone IVF

The survival rate for the entire group of women was 99 percent. There was no disparity between those who had received fertility-saving surgery and those who had undergone radical surgical cancer treatment.

“In the choice of treatment for borderline ovarian tumors, safety and the effectiveness for future childbearing must be taken into account,” states Kenny Rodriguez-Wallberg, a researcher at the Department of Oncology-Pathology, Karolinska Institutet.

Interested in learning more about evidence-based research studies, check out Research Underway to Understand Relationship Between Endometriosis, Infertility, and Strokes in Women.

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