Skip to nav Skip to content

Ovarian cancer surgery is the main form of treatment recommended for women who are diagnosed with endometrial malignancies. There are several different types of procedures, and the approach that is best suited for a patient will depend on a number of individual factors, including the extent of the cancer and the patient’s general health.

The goal of ovarian cancer surgery is two-fold: to stage the cancer and to remove as much of the tumor as possible (debulking). Proper staging is an important first step because ovarian cancer treatment can vary based on how far the cancer has spread beyond the ovaries. The most accurate way to stage ovarian cancer is to evaluate tissue samples under a microscope. Therefore, in addition to debulking a tumor, ovarian cancer surgery is often performed to obtain tissue samples for staging purposes. From there, a gynecologic oncologist can determine which types of treatment would potentially be most effective.

Can ovarian cancer be treated without surgery?

It is sometimes possible to treat ovarian cancer without surgically removing a woman’s uterus and ovaries, which can be particularly significant for women of childbearing age. However, it is important to remove as much of a tumor as possible in order to minimize the likelihood that a patient will require further surgery in the future. For these reasons, a patient is advised to consult with an ovarian cancer surgeon and also to seek one or more additional opinions before deciding on a course of treatment.


Ovarian cancer surgery at Moffitt Cancer Center

At Moffitt Cancer Center, we take a unique, multispecialty approach to treating ovarian cancer. In doing so, we provide each patient with the benefit of multiple expert opinions in a single location. Before recommending ovarian cancer surgery for a patient, our talented tumor board of experts thoroughly reviews all aspects of the patient’s case. To ensure the best possible treatment, each patient’s individualized plan is developed based on input from this group of wide-ranging specialists, which includes ovarian cancer surgeons, medical oncologists, pathologists, plastic surgeons, radiologists, radiation oncologists, reproductive endocrinologists and supportive care providers.

Moffitt was one of the trial sites for a newly FDA-approved drug called Cytalux which is designed to help surgeons detect ovarian tumors during surgical procedures. Cytalux is a dye that binds to ovarian cancer tissue and glows when exposed to fluorescent light. This helps surgeons to identify malignant lesions that were not preplanned or detected by palpation and normal white light alone.  

This novel treatment is a significant milestone that will advance how we detect cancer. We hope to see more patients when they are first diagnosed and need surgery so we can offer this novel treatment. A patient’s best chance is her first chance.
Robert Wenham, MD
Gynecologic Program Chair

How Cytalux works:

  • Cytalux is administered to patients through intravenous infusion as part of their preoperative care.
  • Cytalux contains a folic acid analog that identifies and binds to the folate receptors on ovarian cancer cells.
  • Cytalux contains a dye that lights up when a special camera is used during surgery (think of it as ink that only shows up under black light).

When ovarian cancer surgery is necessary, Moffitt’s patients are in good hands. Our skilled ovarian cancer surgeons are experienced in performing a variety of procedures, including:

  • Unilateral salpingo-oophorectomy – Surgical removal of one ovary and one fallopian tube
  • Bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy – Surgical removal of both ovaries and both fallopian tubes
  • Hysterectomy – Surgical removal of the uterus and cervix, along with the surrounding tissues, the ovaries and the upper part of the vagina.
  • Lymph node dissection – Surgical removal of the lymph nodes in the pelvic and para-aortic areas
  • Omentectomy – Surgical removal of the thin tissue that covers the stomach and large intestine
  • Cytoreductive debulking surgery – Surgical removal of an ovarian tumor, which might include the removal of tissue from surrounding organs, such as the stomach, gallbladder, spleen, bladder or colon
  • Pelvic exenteration – Surgical removal of some or all of the female reproductive organs which include the ovaries, fallopian tubes, uterus, cervix and vagina, as well as the rectum, bladder, pelvic lymph nodes and potentially the anus or colon, followed by reconstructive surgery

Following ovarian cancer surgery, a woman may be advised to undergo chemotherapy to attempt to destroy any residual cancer cells. In most cases, the chemotherapy is administered either intraperitoneally, by placing a catheter in the patient’s abdomen to deliver the chemotherapeutic drugs directly into the pelvic area, or intravenously, by injecting the drugs directly into a vein.

How long does it take to recover from ovarian cancer surgery?

Typically, a hospital stay following ovarian cancer surgery is up to a week. Following that, recovery time varies from patient to patient and depending on the procedure performed. But, patients are usually able to resume normal activities in about four to six weeks. As with most surgeries, pain or soreness can be expected following surgery, but you will be prescribed medication to help manage it.

To learn more about ovarian cancer surgery and the other treatment options available at Moffitt’s gynecological clinic, call 1-888-663-3488 or request to schedule an appointment online. We do not require referrals. 


Helpful Links: