A prospective study of quality of life among women undergoing risk-reducing salpingo-oophorectomy versus gynecologic screening for ovarian cancer

Gynecol Oncol. 2009 Mar;112(3):594-600. doi: 10.1016/j.ygyno.2008.11.039. Epub 2009 Jan 13.


Objective: The primary objective of the study was to prospectively assess quality of life (QOL) among women at increased risk of ovarian cancer who are undergoing risk-reducing salpingo-oophorectomy (RRSO) or serial screening.

Methods: Women at increased risk of ovarian cancer who were undergoing RRSO were recruited into the study. At-risk women undergoing serial screening for early detection of ovarian cancer served as a comparison group. Participants completed measures of QOL, sexual functioning, body image, depressive symptoms, and a symptom checklist at baseline (prior to surgery for women obtaining RRSO), and then at 1-month, 6-months, and 12-months post baseline.

Results: Women who underwent surgery reported poorer physical functioning, more physical role limitations, greater pain, less vitality, poorer social functioning, and greater discomfort and less satisfaction with sexual activities at 1-month assessment compared to baseline. In contrast, women undergoing screening experienced no significant decrements in QOL or sexual functioning at 1-month assessment. Most QOL deficits observed in the surgical group were no longer apparent by 6-month assessment. Women in the surgery group were more likely to report hot flashes and vaginal dryness, but over time, symptoms of vaginal discomfort decreased to a greater extent in women who had RRSO compared to women undergoing screening. No differences in body image or depressive symptoms were observed between the two groups at any time point.

Conclusions: Short-term deficits in physical functioning and other specific domains of QOL were observed following RRSO, but most women recovered baseline functioning by 6- and 12-month assessments. Issues regarding the potential impact of surgery on short-term sexual functioning should be considered and weighed carefully, particularly among younger women.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Image
  • Depression / etiology
  • Female
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / genetics
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / psychology
  • Ovariectomy / methods
  • Ovary / surgery*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Quality of Life
  • Risk Factors
  • Sexual Behavior