Certification in Gynecologic Oncology and creation of the Society of Gynecologic Oncologists in the United States have led to the development of a specialty with individuals capable of performing complex abdominal and pelvic operations in the management of epithelial ovarian carcinoma. These operations can be divided into two types. 1) A staging operation to assess the extent of disease through careful palpation, histologic and cytologic assessment of all peritoneal surfaces along with removal of the uterus, ovaries and fallopian tubes, omentum, together with a bilateral pelvic and aortic lymphadenectomy. Such information allows the clinician to determine prognosis and if postoperative adjuvant therapy is indicated. 2) A debulking operation designed to resect or reduce the size of metastatic lesions as well as to remove the primary tumor including a bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy. This operation is designed to improve survival and cure. In spite of this apparently clear paradigm, there has been a steady debate as to the apparent justification of these operations, especially when the former is performed in a women who has not completed her childbearing and especially when the latter requires “ultraradical” procedures. Many feel that the pendulum is now swinging toward fertility-sparing surgery among young women with early invasive cancers and toward either neoadjuvant chemotherapy or less than ultraradical debulking among women with advanced ovarian cancer. The purpose of this study is not to provide an exhaustive review but rather to outline this debate and focus on the American experience with conservative surgery in the management of epithelial ovarian carcinoma.
- ovarian cancer
- fertility sparing
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