Over the years, various developments in cancer research have brought us closer to treating some types of cancers, like ovarian cancer.
According to a book on ovarian cancers by the National Academies Press, its initial symptoms often go unnoticed by women and their doctors. This means, when it actually gets diagnosed, little can be done at that point.
However, there have been promising results through experimental treatments, such as using debulking surgery for ovarian cancer.
Debulking refers to cytoreductive surgery. It is done in case cancer has spread from a patient’s ovaries to other organs. If the cancer has taken over any organ, surgeons may also remove a part of it and reconstruct it.
All About Debulking Surgery
As mentioned above, cytoreductive surgery, or debulking, is done when the reports show the cancer is spreading to other organs. This means you have to be treated immediately so the detectable disease can be removed from the body.
Debulking often involves removing the ovaries and a biopsy of the lymph nodes and removing a tumor from the pelvis or abdomen, if any.
In some cases, surgeons are also required to remove the infected portion of an organ and reconstruct it. This way, the cancer can be properly removed.
However, this is only possible if the organ is in abundance inside your body and the cancer hasn’t spread.
Surgical Procedures Related to Debulking
Depending on what stage of ovarian cancer you have and its spread to other organs inside your body, cytoreductive surgery may be a good option. This procedure can remove certain organs or pieces that have cancerous cells attached.
Other procedures include:
- Unilateral oophorectomy – Removal of an affected ovary
- Unilateral salpingectomy – Removal of the affected ovary and its fallopian tubes
- Bilateral oophorectomy – Removal of both ovaries
- Bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy – Removal of both ovaries and fallopian tubes
- Hysterectomy – Removal of the uterus
- Lymphadenectomy – Removal of the pelvic lymph nodes
- Omentectomy – Removal of the omentum
- Removal of a part of the diaphragm
- Removal of the liver, spleen, or bowel, if your reproductive system is affected
The organs and tissues removed through cytoreductive surgery are examined microscopically to determine whether the patient needs additional treatment or other forms of treatment. Moreover, this also helps doctors learn more about the type of cancer and its stage.
After debulking, patients who are left with slight or no signs of tumors have a stronger chance of recovery.
However, those who have larger tumors may need additional or repeat debulking sessions. This can also make tumors smaller so they can be effectively removed through cryotherapy.
How is Debulking Surgery Done?
Debulking is performed by putting an incision on the patient’s abdomen, the length of which is between their navel to the pubic bone. It is a delicate and sensitive procedure. It requires the highest level of precision, which is why it can take anywhere between 4 to 8 hours.
Once the incision is made, doctors can remove the infected part of the organ while also removing most of the cancerous cells from the body.
Debulking surgery is considered to be a safe surgical procedure, especially if you are in the hands of a skilled and experienced surgeon.
According to the National Center of Biotechnology Information, patients who are too weak to undergo surgery or too far along in their disease can be subjected to Neoadjuvant Chemotherapy before they can undergo debulking surgery. This procedure increases the chances of treatment through surgery.
What are the Post-Surgery Effects?
The amount of pain experienced post-surgery varies from person to person. Doctors can help alleviate the pain through numbing and non-narcotic medication.
Patients are asked to stay away from narcotic medication so they are more active and can walk around, as directed by doctors. Some studies also research the effect of Epidural analgesia on postoperative pain management in patients.
While debulking surgery is highly effective in removing the tumors from your body, research by the National Center of Biotechnology Information shows that around 80% of the patients have a chance of relapsing. In such cases, a second surgery isn’t as effective as the first one.
However, debulking surgery is worth giving a chance, as its results are highly promising. If your doctor believes the cancerous cells can be removed through this procedure, then there is no reason for you to suffer any longer with ovarian cancer!