Preparing For Ovarian Cancer Surgery
- Women are often allowed to eat and drink nutritional liquids up to six hours before surgery.
- Family support can help ease patients’ anxieties before the procedure.
- There are many tools at the doctor’s disposal to help control pain before during and after surgery.
“Things have changed a lot since I was in training,” says Dr. Marta Crispens
, a gynecologic oncologist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee, about developments in ovarian cancer surgery.
According to Dr. Crispens, preparing for ovarian cancer surgery has evolved over decades in order to make sure women recover successfully. Initially, women were told not to eat or drink anything before, but now, patients are encouraged to drink a nutritional beverage and light snack sometimes up to six hours before the operation. Additionally, it’s important that patients are provided emotional support leading up to surgery, which may help sooth any anxiety they could be experiencing. Before, during and after surgery, doctors have many tools at their disposal to help manage pain and help to speed up recovery. Read More
“Many times we [may] offer an epidural or some anesthetic blocks in the abdominal wall to try to help with postoperative pain because we know it’s very important to decrease the stress on the body,” Dr. Crispens says.
When Should I Get Ovarian Cancer Surgery?
The timeline between an ovarian cancer diagnosis and surgery
depends on a variety of factors including the type of surgery. There are typically two options: an upfront surgical procedure which could occur within the first two weeks upon being diagnosed, or an interval debulking after three or four cycles of chemotherapy, in which the doctor will aim to remove all visible evidence of disease. Ovarian cancer is an aggressive disease that can spread quickly therefore doctors often want to have treatment begin as soon as possible. Additionally, there are physical symptoms such as bloating and discomfort that should be resolved quickly with surgery. There is no clear timeline in determining when women should undergo surgery following an ovarian cancer diagnosis, seeing as it’s often a case-by-case basis. In order to decide when surgery is best, patients should talk to their doctors to determine the most effective route to take.
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