New recommendation to prevent ovarian cancer: Consider fallopian tube removal

The nonprofit Ovarian Cancer Research Alliance has issued a statement recommending more women consider removal of their fallopian tubes to prevent ovarian cancer.

The recommendation comes, in part, due to the fact that unlike colon and breast cancer, there is no definitive screening tool for ovarian cancer.

Dr. Kirstiaan Nevin, division director for the Hereditary Cancer Screening Program at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, told WTOP that the recommendation is standard of care for some patients — specifically, “For high risk patients, especially mutation carriers like BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 mutation carriers.”

Nevin said the recommendation would include the removal of the ovaries as well, for those women at high risk who’ve decided they will not be having children.

There is, she said, a push to consider “an interval procedure,” in which the fallopian tubes are removed and the ovaries are left alone until a woman reaches the onset of menopause.

“That’s not an established care recommendation, but some patients will entertain that idea to just remove the tubes first, but then ultimately remove the ovaries at a later point,” Nevin said.

Since 2019, the American College of OB-GYNs has recommended that women who are undergoing some other gynecologic surgery and “have completed their childbearing — and they’re sure of that — should consider removal of the fallopian tubes,” Nevin said.

But Nevin pointed out “there has not been a recommendation to simply go in there for the purpose of removing the tubes in a low-risk patient.”

Why the focus on fallopian tubes? Nevin points out research that came out in 2019 showed “that ovarian cancer can originate from the fallopian tube or even from the uterus.”

The recommendations may sound jarring, but Nevin said, unlike colon and breast cancers, there is no reliable screening for ovarian cancer. “This is a deadly cancer without a good screening test.”

Kate Ryan

As a member of the award-winning WTOP News, Kate is focused on state and local government. Her focus has always been on how decisions made in a council chamber or state house affect your house. She's also covered breaking news, education and more.

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