TAH & BSO and omentectomy, and debulking surgery

• If your ovarian cancer is at an early stage, you will probably have a total abdominal hysterectomy and bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy (TAH & BSO). This involves removing the uterus, cervix, Fallopian tubes and ovaries. The pelvic lymph glands may also be removed. The fat 'apron' in the abdomen (the omentum) is also removed in a procedure called omentectomy.

• The operation is carried out under general anaesthetic. A catheter will drain urine from the bladder for a few days, and you will stay in hospital for about 1 week.

• Your doctor may not know whether your tumour is benign or cancerous or, if cancerous, how advanced it is, until the pathology report is available, usually 3-7 days after the operation.

• If the cancer is advanced, it is necessary to remove as much of the tumour as possible during the operation; this is called debulking surgery, and may involve bowel surgery. This does not cure ovarian cancer, but can delay or prevent complications such as bowel or kidney obstruction. It also makes chemotherapy, which is treatment with drugs that attack the cancer cells, more effective.

• If the cancer affects only one ovary, and you have yet to complete your family, a unilateral oophorectomy may be an option. This involves removing only the affected ovary. You may be recommended to have the other ovary removed with a hysterectomy later.