Is ovarian cancer still possible after a hysterectomy?
Answers from Shannon K. Laughlin-Tommaso, M.D.
Yes, you still have a risk of ovarian cancer or a type of cancer that acts just like it (primary peritoneal cancer) if you've had a hysterectomy.
Your risk depends on the type of hysterectomy you had:
- Partial hysterectomy or total hysterectomy. A partial hysterectomy removes your uterus, and a total hysterectomy removes your uterus and your cervix. Both procedures leave your ovaries intact, so you can still develop ovarian cancer.
Total hysterectomy with salpingo-oophorectomy. This procedure removes your cervix and uterus as well as both ovaries and fallopian tubes. This makes ovarian cancer less likely to occur, but it does not remove all risk.
You still have a small risk of what's called primary peritoneal cancer, which may result from ovarian cells that migrated to the peritoneal area during each menstrual cycle before your ovaries were removed. These cells can become cancerous later on. Alternatively, since the peritoneum and ovaries arise from the same tissues during embryonic development, it's possible that cancer could arise from the cells of the peritoneum.
Currently, there are no effective screening tests for ovarian cancer in women with an average risk of the disease. If you're concerned about your risk, discuss your options with your doctor.
Shannon K. Laughlin-Tommaso, M.D.
March 11, 2014
- Frequently asked questions. Hysterectomy FAQ008. American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. http://www.acog.org/For_Patients. Accessed Jan. 27, 2014.
- Lentz GM, et al. Comprehensive Gynecology. 6th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby Elsevier; 2012. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Jan. 27, 2014.