Hysterectomy to Prevent Ovarian Cancer

A study by researchers from the University of California at San Francisco has revealed that a woman who underwent hysterectomy as well as had her ovaries removed too, had reduced risks of ovarian cancer and her risks of developing other cancers, heart disease and hip fractures did not go up.

A research team led by Dr Vanessa Jacoby analyzed data collected from a Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) that looked at over 25,000 women. The women were postmenopausal, aged between 50 and 79, none of who had a family history of ovarian cancer. All the women underwent hysterectomy, 56% had oophorectomy or removal of ovaries and 79% took hormone replacement therapy, HRT. The researchers followed the women for 7 to 8 years to collect data on how many suffered ovarian cancer, heart disease and hip fractures, during those years.

The results showed that ovarian cancer was found in 1 out of every 300 women in the group that underwent hysterectomy, while ovarian cancer affected just 1 out of 5,000 women who had both hysterectomy and oophorectomy. Hip fracture and heart diseases rates were 8 in a 1000 women annually in both groups, regardless of either hysterectomy and or a combination of both hysterectomy and removal of ovaries.

The findings of this study were in total contrast to that of another study, the Nurses’ Health Study, which found that oophorectomy raised the risks of ovarian cancer and heart disease. Ovarian cysts and endometriosis are some reasons for carrying out oophorectomy in women. However, further detailed study needs to be undertaken, to determine whether a combination of hysterectomy and oophorectomy does indeed lower ovarian cancer and heart disease risks in women.