How do ovarian cancer and cervical cancer differ?
I'm an older woman with cervical cancer. My doctor recently recommended that I get a hysterectomy. She says this will protect me not only from the cervical cancer but from ovarian cancer as well. I guess I don't understand - what is the difference?
Ovarian cancer and cervical cancer are two completely separate disease processes. The cervix is the lower portion of the uterus that leads to the top part of the vagina. The ovaries are the female reproductive organs that are responsible for producing the eggs that are fertilized to lead to pregnancy. The ovaries are located near the uterus in the pelvic cavity, and the eggs produced by the ovaries travel through the fallopian tubes to lead into the uterus. Depending on the stage of your cervical cancer, the treatment may include a hysterectomy, which by itself means removal of the uterus (including the cervix). Often, when women undergo a hysterectomy, the fallopian tubes and ovaries will be removed as well. In a woman that has already undergone menopause, the ovaries are no longer producing eggs on a monthly basis and no longer producing the amount of hormones they were earlier in life. However, the ovaries are still susceptible to cancer after menopause, and for this reason, there may be an advantage to removing them if a woman is already undergoing pelvic surgery for another reason (such as a hysterectomy for cervical cancer). You should ask your physician about the risks and benefits of removing your ovaries in addition to your uterus during your surgery.
This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.
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