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Ovarian Cancer - multiple surgeries
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Ovarian Cancer - multiple surgeries

My mother was initially diagnosed with stage 1 ovarian cancer in 2004.  She had a complete hysterectomy then with no chemo.  Unfortunately, it recurred in 2006 in the peritoneum, putting her in the stage 4 category.  She did a surgical debulking with a general oncological surgeon.  Since then, she was on chemo treatments once every 2 weeks or sometimes every week.  CA125 came down from a couple thousand to 20.  Somehow, in 2006, it creeped back up and she did a second surgery, followed by chemo.  Once in awhile she would skip one or two chemos.  In 2009, she skipped one or two and all of a sudden found herself with an awful bowel obstruction.  Stayed in the hospital for 2 months and they couldn't figure out why.  Put her on a couple rounds of chemo at the hospital and she would start to eat again. Then it would hurt and somehow she would never get out of this obstruction cycle.  Finally, the docs suggested to do a third surgery.  If anything, exploratory.  Well, she didn't make it. Her blood pressure dropped due to internal bleeding that was slowly seeping through (per docs).  As I learn more, some docs are saying she should never have gotten a third operation. So my question:
1) Is there anyone out there that had 3 operations (after the first intial hysterectomy)?
2) Is is true that with time, due to chemo's toxicity, your blood vessels scar and thus with ovarian cancer, one really should not go the surgical route so many times (more than 2 times)?
3) Would a gynecological oncology surgeon  have known to not operate a third time compared to a general oncology surgeon?

Please help as I am not only full of guilt but also need to understand all this as there potentially could be another cancer patient in my family (just found out there is a genetic BRCA factor too)

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Dear Lchang,

I am so sorry to hear about your loss. Your mother went through so much.
It is not possible without a careful review of records, xrays, operative notes to fully answer your question.

You could ask the doctors who took care of your mother for a meeting to go over what happened. If that is possible, you may have answers and closure.

As a general statement, I would say there is no limit on the number of surgeries a person can have.  The indications for surgery include: bowel obstruction, resection or tumor, hernia repair, and more.

I believe that families do shoulder a huge emotional burden - of grief, loss, stress, and guilt.

Ultimately, your mother experienced a terrible cancer. It was the cancer that killed her.
It is terribly unfair and terribly tragic.
take care
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To Dr Goodman,

Thank you for responding. I know you can not possible answer the questions with 100% certainty without reviewing her records.  I did ask the medical oncologist for a meeting a couple of months ago, but new questions such as the above are coming up as I am learning more about BRCA (and I got tested positive recently).  I don't want to bother the oncologist anymore. So if you even have a general answer, it would be appreciated.  If not, that's alright.  Thank you again.
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