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Preventive procedure for ovarian cancer adopted without adverse surgical outcomes

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OAKLAND, Calif., July 11, 2016 — A surgical procedure recommended to reduce the future risk of ovarian cancer has been successfully implemented throughout Kaiser Permanente in Northern California without a change in surgical outcomes, according to research published today in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Ovarian cancer is the leading cause of death from gynecological related cancers, according to the American Cancer Society, which estimates more than 14,000 women will die from ovarian cancer in 2016.

Previous research shows that the fallopian tubes are the likely origin of a majority of ovarian cancer cases. In 2013, the Society of Gynecologic Oncology recommended the removal of the fallopian tubes during routine hysterectomies, a procedure called opportunistic salpingectomy, in order to reduce the risk of ovarian cancer. Interventions that reduce ovarian cancer risk, such as surgery, are especially important given the lack of effective screening strategies and because mortality rates from the disease have not changed significantly over the past several decades.

The new study shows the results of widespread adoption of salpingectomy in a large, integrated health care system following the development and implementation of a systemwide education program on the procedure. Between June 2013 and May 2014, 72.7 percent of women included in the study had fallopian tubes removed at the time of hysterectomy, compared with 14.7 percent between June 2011 and May 2012.

"Incorporating this procedure into our clinical practice has provided the opportunity for Kaiser Permanente to prevent ovarian cancers, a particularly insidious and lethal cancer with limited screening options," said C. Bethan Powell, MD, the study's senior author and a Kaiser Permanente gynecological oncology surgeon. "We have shown that it is feasible to incorporate this procedure into gynecological practice at a large scale, with no other surgical repercussions."

The study did not identify any changes in surgical outcomes or length of stay in the hospital with the addition of salpingectomy. Instead, operating times were an average of seven minutes shorter in the hysterectomy plus salpingectomy group than in the group that had hysterectomy only (147 versus 154 minutes) when the surgery was performed in a minimally invasive way (laparoscopy), and average blood loss was significantly lower (100 versus 150 mL).

In a survey of Kaiser Permanente's Northern California gynecologists in early 2015, 86 percent reported offering women removal of the fallopian tubes at the time of hysterectomy. Of those who performed hysterectomies, the only concerns identified to removing the fallopian tubes were possible "difficulty in accessing the tube" (36 percent) and the possibility of "increased complications" (3 percent). However, 91 percent of the physicians who performed salpingectomy reported no increase in complications.

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Funding for this study was provided by the Kaiser Permanente Northern California Residency Program, Kaiser Foundation Hospitals.

In addition to Dr. Powell, co-authors of the study were Christine Garcia, MD, Maria Martin, MD, Lue-Yen Tucker, Liisa Lyon, MS, Mary Ann Armstrong, MA, Sally McBride-Allen, Ramey D. Littel, MD, Amy Alabaster, MPH, and Tina Raine-Bennett, MD, MPH, of Kaiser Permanente.

About the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research

The Kaiser Permanente Division of Research conducts, publishes and disseminates epidemiologic and health services research to improve the health and medical care of Kaiser Permanente members and society at large. It seeks to understand the determinants of illness and well-being, and to improve the quality and cost-effectiveness of health care. Currently, DOR's 550-plus staff is working on more than 250 epidemiological and health services research projects. For more information, visit http://www.dor.kaiser.org or follow us @KPDOR.

About Kaiser Permanente

Kaiser Permanente is committed to helping shape the future of health care. We are recognized as one of America's leading health care providers and not-for-profit health plans. Founded in 1945, Kaiser Permanente has a mission to provide high-quality, affordable health care services and to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve. We currently serve more than 10.6 million members in eight states and the District of Columbia. Care for members and patients is focused on their total health and guided by their personal physicians, specialists and team of caregivers. Our expert and caring medical teams are empowered and supported by industry-leading technology advances and tools for health promotion, disease prevention, state-of-the-art care delivery and world-class chronic disease management. Kaiser Permanente is dedicated to care innovations, clinical research, health education and the support of community health. For more information, go to: kp.org/share.

Media Contact

Heather Platisha
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