Debulking is a surgical treatment to remove as much cancer from the abdomen as possible. Depending on where the cancer has spread, debulking may include removing tumors throughout the belly or removing organs, such as the ovaries, fallopian tubes, uterus, spleen, pieces of the liver, or segments of the colon or small intestine. When surgeons are able to successfully remove all visible tumors, there is a better prognosis.
Surgeons may try to debulk the tumor during initial surgery, or there may be another debulking surgery to remove more cancer following initial treatment.
Impact on Fertility
Depending on which organs the surgeon removes, debulking surgery may leave you unable to give birth. If you want children in the future, talk to your doctor before the surgery to discuss whether you might be able to retain your fertility.
Goals of debulking surgery include removing most of the cancer from the body so other treatments can more effectively kill any remaining cancer cells, reducing cancer symptoms, and removing cancer after it has relapsed (come back).
Surgery can be hard on the body, so debulking surgery may not be an option for people who aren’t in good health. In addition, any surgery carries risks including blood clots, blood loss, infection, breathing problems, scarring, reactions to medication, and heart attack or stroke during the surgery.
Call your doctor if you notice symptoms of infection, such as fever, bleeding, swelling or increased pain at the incision, or severe abdominal cramping and pain. Notify your doctor if you experience chest pain, shortness of breath, discharge from the wound, abnormal or foul-smelling vaginal discharge, pain or swelling in your calves, painful or frequent urination, or vomiting more than 24 hours after the surgery.
For more details about this treatment, visit:
Ovarian Cancer Treatment — MD Anderson Cancer Center
Surgery for Ovarian Cancer — American Cancer Society
How Cancer and Cancer Treatment Can Affect Fertility in Females — American Cancer Society