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The role of oophoropexy in patients with gynecological cancer who need radiation therapy
  1. Elysia K Donovan1,
  2. Allan L Covens2,
  3. Rachel S Kupets2 and
  4. Eric W Leung3
  1. 1 Radiation Oncology, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
  2. 2 Gynecologic Oncology, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  3. 3 Radiation Oncology, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  1. Correspondence to Dr Eric W Leung, Radiation Oncology, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, Toronto, ON M4N 3M5, Canada; eric.leung{at}


Pelvic radiotherapy is an essential component of cancer therapy for patients with cervical and other gynecological malignancies. The ovaries are particularly radiosensitive, and even low radiotherapy doses may result in impaired or complete loss of ovarian function, causing hormonal disturbances and infertility. Recent advances in both surgery and radiotherapy have facilitated the ability of some patients to maintain ovarian function through ovarian transposition and careful radiotherapy planning. Multidisciplinary discussions should be undertaken to consider which candidates are appropriate for transposition. Generally, patients under age 35 should be considered due to ovarian reserve, likelihood of oophoropexy success, and radioresistance of ovaries. Those patients with small squamous cell tumors, minimal extra-uterine extension, and no lymphovascular invasion or lymph node involvement are ideal candidates to minimize risk of ovarian metastasis. Patients should be assessed and counseled about the risks of ovarian metastasis and the likelihood of successful ovarian preservation before undergoing oophoropexy and starting treatment. Oophoropexy should be bilateral if possible, and ovaries should be placed superior and lateral to the radiotherapy field. Studies limiting the mean ovarian dose to less than 2–3 Gray have demonstrated excellent preservation of ovarian function. Intensity modulated radiotherapy and volumetric modulated arc therapy techniques have the potential to further minimize the dose to the ovary with excellent outcomes. The addition of brachytherapy to the treatment regimen will probably cause minimal risk to transposed ovaries. Oophoropexy before radiotherapy may preserve the hormonal function of ovaries for a duration, and fertility might be possible through surrogate pregnancy. Successful ovarian transposition has the potential to improve the overall health and wellbeing, reproductive options, and potentially quality of life in patients with cervical and other gynecological cancers.

  • cervical cancer
  • Radiotherapy
  • surgical procedures
  • operative

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  • Contributors ED was responsible for writing the manuscript. AC was responsible for editing the manuscript. RK was responsible for editing the manuscript and provided figures. EL was responsible for supervision of manuscript.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.