Debulking Cytoreductive Surgery for Ovarian Cancer

Female ovarian cancer patient speaking with doctor

Debulking cytoreductive surgery is a common treatment procedure for ovarian cancer. The goal of debulking is to remove as much cancerous tissue in the patient’s abdomen as possible, leaving behind no tumor nodules that measure more than 1 centimeter in diameter. This procedure is especially necessary for patients whose cancer has spread throughout the abdomen and may improve patient survival rates. This procedure should be performed by a gynecologic oncologist, as they are specially trained in providing medical care for gynecological cancers.

Because chemotherapy usually cannot penetrate large and bulky ovarian tumors, debulking cytoreductive surgery may be performed before chemotherapy is administered. By reducing the size of a tumor prior to the delivery of chemotherapy, the chemotherapeutic drugs can target the remaining cancer more effectively, leading to a better response to treatment.

Concurrent Surgical Procedures to Ovarian Cancer

Depending on the stage and extent of a patient’s ovarian cancer, debulking cytoreductive surgery may involve the surgical removal of:

  • An affected ovary (unilateral oophorectomy)
  • An affected ovary and its adjoining fallopian tube (unilateral salpingectomy)
  • Both ovaries (bilateral oophorectomy)
  • Both ovaries and fallopian tubes (bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy)
  • The uterus (hysterectomy)
  • Pelvic lymph nodes (lymphadenectomy)
  • The omentum (omentectomy)
  • A portion of the diaphragm (the thin muscle that separates the chest and abdomen)
  • The bowel, spleen and/or liver (if the cancer has spread beyond the reproductive system)

The organs and tissues removed during debulking cytoreductive surgery are examined under a microscope to determine whether additional ovarian cancer surgery or other treatments are needed, and also to learn more about the cancer itself (such as the type of cells that make up the tumor).

Moffitt Cancer Center’s Approach to Ovarian Cancer Surgery

Moffitt Cancer Center treats a high volume of patients. As a result, our surgeons have achieved a refined level of expertise that far exceeds that of other providers. We’ve achieved an excellent rate of success for debulking cytoreductive surgery, leading to improved patient survival rates and better quality of life. For instance, our surgeons may be able to utilize advanced, minimally invasive techniques to address localized tumors. Performed through tiny incisions in the abdomen, these laparoscopic procedures can be used to diagnose, stage and treat ovarian cancer.

Medically reviewed by Hye Sook Chon, MD, gynecologic oncologist

For more information about debulking cytoreductive surgery and other ovarian cancer treatment options, call 1-888-663-3488 or access our online form to schedule an appointment. We accept patients with and without referrals. Virtual visits may also be available, depending on the appointment.