Possibility of ovarian cancer after removal of the ovaries

Last Modified: February 2, 2003

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Question

Dear OncoLink "Ask The Experts,"
I have had a complete hysterectomy with both ovaries and uterus removed 25 years ago. Yet I am experiencing severe bloating and unexplained weight gain. I need to know if a woman can get ovarian cancer if she has had a complete hysterectomy? 

Answer

Stephen C. Rubin, MD, Professor and Chief of the Division of Gynecologic Oncology, University of Pennsylvania Health System, responds:

Removal of the ovaries usually completely eliminates the risk of ovarian cancer. Occasionally, a portion of ovary may remain due to extensive adhesions or scarring, and a tumor could develop in this "ovarian remnant." Also, cancers very similar to ovarian cancer can arise from the lining of the abdominal cavity, the peritoneum, even after ovarian removal.

There are many different conditions, both serious and not so serious, that could explain your symptoms. Anyone with these symptoms should see their physician for an evaluation.