Distinctive psychological and social experiences of women choosing prophylactic oophorectomy for cancer prevention.

Meadows R, Padamsee TJ, Paskett ED
Health Care Women Int 39 595-616 01/01/2018


Women known to have significantly elevated ovarian cancer risk due to genetic mutations or family history can reduce this risk by surgically removing both ovaries and fallopian tubes (RRBSO, risk-reducing bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy). We used interpretive phenomenological analysis (IPA) to explore the psychosocial experiences of women who chose RRBSO for cancer prevention. We extended the traditional use of IPA to compare the experiences of women who chose RRBSO for cancer prevention to those of women who underwent similar gynecologic surgery for benign indications. The analysis resulted in three superordinate themes describing women's psychosocial experiences related to RRBSO: (a) psychological facets of cancer risk (b) social support and (c) shared medical decision making. Findings illustrate that women choosing RRBSO for cancer prevention experience heightened psychosocial challenges before and after surgery compared to women undergoing surgery for benign indication. Furthermore, they may need distinct types of information and support from healthcare providers.

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