Should I Have My Tubes Removed?

tubes removedLast year, Angelina Jolie underwent a double mastectomy after discovering that she carried a mutation of the BRCA1 gene, greatly increasing her chances of breast and ovarian cancer. A bold move to some, but her decision to have the preventative surgery made sense after having lost her mother to ovarian cancer in 2007, and discovering that the estimated risk of breast or ovarian cancer was over 80% for her as well.

As I prepare for my third C-section, I’m left to contemplate a fairly new procedure that claims to greatly reduce the risks of ovarian cancer in women as well – the removal of fallopian tubes. Unlike Angelina, my body is free of any signs of cancer or mutations, but like her, my biological family has a long history of cancer. My biological grandmother, grandfather, father and aunt have all had various forms of cancer, and all except my biological aunt have died from the disease.

I’ve now spoken to two doctors, who have both recommended the surgery over the age-old method of tying the tubes. Studies have shown that removing the fallopian tubes greatly reduces the risks of ovarian cancer, but I’m left to wonder – what are the side effects and health risks of this fairly new surgical procedure?

Because this procedure is so new, embraced mostly by British Columbian surgeons, and frequently referred to as the “Vancouver surgery”, there is a lot of controversy around its practice. While it has been proven that a high percentage of ovarian cancers have in fact started in the tubes and not the ovaries, there are very little findings to show the possible long-term side effects of the procedure. And it is the unknown that worries some professionals in the field.

I’ve consulted two doctors so far, both of whom have performed this surgery on several occasions. Both doctors have emphasized that the research and findings around removing the tubes as a preventative measure could be highly effective, especially when the patient is already receiving abdominal surgery such as a C-section. But both doctors have also said that because the surgical procedure is so new, there is a lack of case studies to show the long-term effects of the surgery, such as the possibility of early-onset menopause.

Both doctors also emphasized that the surgery is minimally invasive when done during a C-section, and that so far they have seen no side effects as a result in the patients they’ve treated.

I’m still left with a lot of questions, and may consult another doctor just to round out the opinions, but I’m curious to know – Have you or someone you know had fallopian tubes removed? What is your opinion on this procedure?

Side note: The Vancouver Sun ran a two-part series exploring the removal of fallopian tubes. To read more about their findings, check out their stories here.

 

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