• Vol. 32 No. 5, 661–664
  • 15 September 2003

Bowel Surgery for Epithelial Ovarian Cancer – An Early Case Series



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Objectives: The aims of this study were to review our local experience with bowel surgery for epithelial ovarian cancer at the Gynaecological Cancer Centre, KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital, and to document the outcome of such surgery as well as their complication rates.

Materials and Methods: The retrospective medical records of 38 patients with epithelial ovarian cancer who underwent surgery including bowel surgery from January 1997 to May 2002 at the Gynaecological Cancer Centre, KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital, Singapore, were reviewed.

Results: Indications for surgery were predominantly debulking of disease. Fifty-eight per cent of patients had primary debulking surgery, 34% had debulking of recurrence and 3% had interval debulking. Only 5% of patients had bowel obstruction as the only indication for surgery. Rectosigmoid resection was the most common bowel operation overall, being performed in 76.3% of patients. The stoma rate for rectosigmoid resection was 61%. The remaining procedures included 7 colectomies, 1 intestinal bypass procedure and 1 intestinal diversion procedure. Optimal debulking (defined as <1 cm of residual disease) was achieved in the majority (71%). The median operating time was 4 hours. The median blood loss was 1300 mL. The major complication rate was 10.5%. Major complications encountered were as follows: 1 patient (2.6%) had an anastomotic leak, 2 patients (5.3%) had intra-abdominal abscess and 1 patient (2.6%) developed intestinal fistula. Three patients (7.8%) required a re-operation within 30 days. There were 3 deaths (7.8%) within 30 days of surgery.

Conclusion: Bowel surgery is commonly indicated for epithelial ovarian cancer to facilitate optimal debulking. Such surgery is feasible with acceptable complication rates in our local centre.

Epithelial ovarian cancer is the leading cause of death in patients with gynaecological malignancies in Singapore and developed countries, the main reason being the advanced stages of the disease (stage III or IV) at diagnosis. This is largely due to the lack of an effective screening tool to detect the disease in its early stages.

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