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Women treated for ovarian tumours can conceive

5 October 2020
Appeared in BioNews 1066

Women treated for ovarian tumours may still have a chance of becoming pregnant, according to a new study.

Researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden found that women previously treated for early-stage borderline ovarian tumours who then underwent fertility-sparing surgery were still able to conceive.

'The ability to become pregnant seems to be preserved with fertility-sparing surgery, a knowledge that is absolutely critical for the advice and treatment given to young women with ovarian borderline tumours,' said Gry Johansen, doctoral student at the Department of Oncology-Pathology at the Karolinska Institute, and first author of the study.

Borderline ovarian tumours make up approximately 20 percent of ovarian tumours of which a third are diagnosed in young fertile women. While fertility-sparing surgery treatment has a higher risk of relapse compared to more radical surgery that removes the uterus and ovaries, it is a common option for women who wish to preserve fertility.

In the study, the scientists analysed data, based on the Swedish national healthcare registers, from 288 Swedish women of fertile age who had undergone fertility-sparing surgery and found that 23 percent had given birth since the surgery, of which nine percent had undergone IVF treatment to conceive. 

Interestingly, there was no difference in survival rate between patients treated with fertility-sparing surgery compared to control patients who had been treated with more radical surgery. The survival rate for both groups was high at 99 percent.

'In the choice of treatment for borderline ovarian tumours, safety and the effectiveness for future childbearing must be taken into account,' says the study's last author Dr Kenny Rodriguez-Wallberg, researcher at the Department of Oncology-Pathology at the Karolinska Institute. 

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