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Preparing for surgery

What happens before surgery for ovarian cancer? 

Once a plan is in place for your ovarian cancer surgery you will be given a date for your operation. This may happen quite quickly.

Some tests will be carried out to ensure that you are physically well enough to undergo the operation. These may include blood tests, an ECG to check your heart rate, and some general questions about any medications you’re currently taking.

During your stay in hospital you will be visited by your surgeon and the anaesthetist - a specialist doctor in charge of giving you your anaesthetic for the operation. They will explain what they will be doing and answer any questions you have. You will also be asked to sign a consent form that gives them permission to perform the operation. 

What happens after surgery for ovarian cancer?

When you first come round after the operation you will probably feel very drowsy.

Once you are fully conscious, the nurses on the ward will encourage you to get up and move around to help you recover more quickly.

You may experience some nausea as the anaesthetic wears off. Tell your nurse if this happens and they will be able to provide you with some anti-sickness drugs to manage this.

You may also experience some pain and discomfort in the days after your surgery, but this can be managed with pain killers. Inform your ward staff so they can help relieve any pain you’re experiencing.

Making your time in hospital comfortable

Your stay in hospital will depend on the type of surgery you have and whether you experience any postoperative problems. The amount of time spent in hospital varies from person to person but be prepared for a stay of three to seven days.

Here are some tips to make your hospital stay more pleasant:

  • Make yourself comfortable. For the first day or so after your operation you will have a catheter, so a loose nightie will be much more comfortable than pyjamas
  • Bring a selection of comfortable and fairly loose fitting clothes from home. Try to change into these as soon as you are able to get up. This will make you feel a little more comfy
  • Bring some of your home comforts with you. Anything from slippers and a dressing gown to a blanket and pillow to make you more comfortable
  • Remember the little things. When preparing a bag for your stay, remember to pack some of the little things that might make a big difference to your recovery. Things such as your favourite soaps, shampoos and shower gels from home will keep you feeling fresh and clean. You will be offered hot drinks regularly so why not bring in some of your favourite tea bags (peppermint tea is recommended) and biscuits to enjoy
  • Keep yourself entertained. You could be facing up to a week in hospital so make sure you come prepared with some things to help pass the time - whether it’s a book or two, some magazines, or a laptop or tablet loaded with your favourite films and box sets. You will find that time goes a bit quicker if your mind is more occupied. If there’s not much room to store your personal belongings, remember that friends and family can also bring in anything else you need throughout your stay in hospital
  • A pad and pen can be really useful if you wish to note down any thoughts, feelings and questions to share with your family, friends and doctors
  • Get out of bed and walk around once you feel able to. You will be asked by the nursing staff to start trying to move around the ward fairly soon after your operation. This is good for your recovery and helps you get back to normal more quickly. Small steps up and down the ward is a good start. The more active you can be the quicker you will recover, which hopefully means less time in hospital.