Treatment Options for Ovarian Cancer

An image showing the ovaries affected by the cancer cells

What are the treatment options for ovarian cancer?

The treatment for ovarian cancer depends on the stage, size, and location of the tumour. The treatment will include the following:

Surgery:

Operations to remove ovarian cancer include:

  • Surgery to remove one ovary: This is for early-stage cancer that has not spread beyond one ovary; surgery may involve removing the affected ovary and its fallopian tube. This procedure can preserve your ability to have children.
  • Surgery to remove both ovaries: If cancer is present in both your ovaries, but there are no signs of additional cancer, then your surgeon may remove both ovaries and both fallopian tubes. This procedure will leave your uterus intact, so that you may be able to become pregnant using your own frozen embryos or eggs or with eggs from a donor.
  • Surgery to remove both the ovaries and the uterus: If your cancer is more extensive or if you do not want to preserve your ability to have children, then your surgeon will remove the ovaries, the fallopian tubes, the uterus, nearby lymph nodes and a fold of fatty abdominal tissue (omentum).
  • Surgery for advanced cancer: If your cancer is advanced, your surgeon may recommend chemotherapy followed by surgery to remove as much cancer as possible.

Chemotherapy:

Chemotherapy is done after surgery to destroy any cancer cells that may remain. It is administered through a vein in your arm, in pill form or both.

  • The drugs will be injected directly into the abdomen (intraperitoneal chemotherapy).
  • Chemotherapy is often used after surgery to kill any cancer cells that could remain. It may also be used before surgery.
  • The Side effects of chemotherapy can include nausea, vomiting, hair loss, fatigue and difficulty in sleeping.

Targeted therapy:

Targeted drug treatments focus on specific abnormalities present within the cancer cells.

  • Targeted therapy drugs are mostly reserved for treating ovarian cancer that may return after initial treatment or cancer which resists other treatments.
  • Your physician may test your cancer cells to check which targeted therapy is most likely to affect your cancer.

Supportive (palliative) care:

Palliative care is specialized medical care focusing on providing relief from pain and other symptoms of a serious illness. Palliative therapy helps to manage symptoms caused by liver cancer but is not meant to cure it. Palliative care is used while undergoing other treatments, such as surgery and chemotherapy. Palliative care team tries to control the pain levels and provide treatment that focuses on the quality of life.

How can you reduce your risk of developing ovarian cancer?

Some factors may help you to reduce your risk of ovarian cancer, such as:

  • Taking birth control pills
  • Given birth
  • Breastfeeding
  • Tubal ligation
  • Hysterectomy

However, tubal ligation and hysterectomy should only be performed for valid medical reasons.

What are the survival rates for ovarian cancer?

For all the types of ovarian cancer, the five-year survival rate is 47%. However, if ovarian cancer is found and treated before spreading outside the ovaries, then the five-year survival rate is 92%.

How can you prepare yourself for the treatment of ovarian cancer?

  • The first and foremost thing that you need to do is keep yourself well informed about your cancer, this improves your quality of life as this can make the disease seem less mysterious and frightening. Information from your doctor and other credible sources can be very helpful in this respect.
  • When a person is diagnosed with cancer it hurts their emotional state, so you need to prepare yourself mentally and emotionally. This can be done by being transparent with your family and friends about how you feel, the problems you have been facing so they can help you in a better way. As a peer or a family member of the patient, you must support them at all times by listening to them patiently as they feel emotionally low.
  • You can avail services of a counsellor or attend group therapies consisting of people sharing their past experiences of cancer.
  • Writing down about your queries, problems, new symptoms, any physical changes, medications, past medical reports and other important things will help you to clearly express yourself to the doctor.

The checklist given below will help you in planning your treatment in India:

checklist to help people plan their treatment in India at an affordable cost.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s):

What are the survival rate and prognosis of ovarian cancer?

When ovarian cancer is found at an early stage then the average survival rate at five years is very good (about 92%).

What are the types of ovarian cancer?

There are three types of ovarian cancer:

  • Epithelial: These tumors develop in the layer of tissue on the outside of the ovaries.
  • Stromal: These tumors grow in hormone-producing cells.
  • Germ cell: These tumors develop in egg-producing cells.

How do you detect ovarian cancer?

There are 2 tests to screen for ovarian cancer; they are transvaginal ultrasound (TVUS) and the CA-125 blood test. A transvaginal ultrasound (TVUS) is a type of pelvic ultrasound used by doctors to examine female reproductive organs. This includes the uterus, fallopian tubes, ovaries, cervix, and vagina. “Transvaginal” means “through the vagina.” This is an internal examination.

What reduces the risk of ovarian cancer?

Certain factors may reduce a woman’s risk of developing ovarian/fallopian tube cancer:

  • Breastfeeding: The longer a woman breastfeeds, the lower her risk of developing ovarian/fallopian tube cancer.
  • Pregnancy: The more full-term pregnancies a woman has had, the lower her risk of ovarian/fallopian tube cancer.
  • Surgical procedures: Women who have had a hysterectomy or a tubal ligation may have a lower risk of developing ovarian/fallopian tube cancer.

Where does ovarian cancer spread first?

Metastatic ovarian cancer is an advanced stage malignancy that has spread from the cells in the ovaries to distant areas of the body. This type of cancer is most likely to spread to the liver, the fluid around the lungs, the spleen, the intestines, the brain, skin or lymph nodes outside of the abdomen.

Who is at high risk for ovarian cancer?

Women over the age of 50 have a higher risk, and most cases of ovarian cancer occur in women who have already gone through the menopause.

What triggers ovarian cancer?

The genes known to increase the risk of ovarian cancer are called breast cancer gene 1 (BRCA1) and breast cancer gene 2 (BRCA2). These genes also increase the risk of breast cancer.


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