What is Cytoreductive (debulking) Surgery?

Cancers of the ovary and fallopian tube tend to spread to the abdominal and pelvic areas.  For example, there may be cells found under the diaphragm, on the outsides of digestive organs, or in the omentum, an apron of fatty tissue roughly in front of the small intestine.  During cytoreductive surgery, the surgeon carefully looks for all signs of cancer in the abdomen, and removes as much of the tumor as possible.  Usually the omentum is removed as well.  This makes it more likely that chemotherapy and/or radiation can kill the remaining cancer cells.

Performing cytoreductive surgery is difficult and exacting work which should be done only by or under the direct supervision of an experienced surgeon. The person with the best training and experience is almost always a gynecologic oncologist.  It has been demonstrated by research that "optimal debulking" (cutting out as much of the tumor as possible) provides the best chances of long-term survival for women whose cancer has spread outside the female reproductive organs, and it has also been shown that gynecologic oncologists do the best job of finding and removing the tumor.


Copyright © 2001 by Laura Dolson. All rights reserved. Please submit reprint requests to gyncancer@baymoon.com

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