- The Planning of Your Treatment
- The Very Beginning Stage of Ovarian Cancer
- Treatment in Early Stage Ovarian Cancer
- Advanced Stage of Ovarian Cancer
- Surgical Operation
- Biological Therapy
- Deciding on Your Treatment
Treatment Ovarian Cancer
There are two ways by means of which ovarian cancer can be treated – surgical operation and chemotherapy. In the majority of cases, women who are diagnosed with ovarian cancer will need a surgical operation. The type of surgical operation as well as number of them are figured out in accordance with the stage and type of cancer. In this article, you’ll find information on how to treat epithelial ovarian cancer. If it’s about the very beginning of cancer, the only possible solution is surgical operation.
Very often, it so happens that women find out about the fact that they have ovarian cancer when it’s already advanced. Consequently, they have to undergo both – a surgical operation and chemotherapy. You may either undergo chemotherapy beforehand or both after and before the surgical operation.
While undergoing the necessary treatment procedures and making tests, you may see that irrespective of the fact that other women have similar diagnosis, they are prescribed a different kind of treatment. The most possible explanation here is that their type or stage of ovarian cancer differs from yours. Still, you should feel free to ask absolutely any question you have and discuss the peculiarities of your treatment with the doctor or a nurse. Some patients prefer writing every question they have down on a sheet of paper so that not to forget anything. It’s also a common situation when patients ask either their close friend or relative to go with them. They will not only support you, but also make sure that you’ve discussed everything you wanted with your doctor.
The Planning of Your Treatment
Usually, a patient with such a diagnosis is treated by a medical team of highly professional doctors. The team is often referred to as gynecology oncology team and involves a surgeon who specializes in the treatment of women’s cancers – gynecological oncologist and a medical cancer specialist doctor – an oncologist. There should also necessarily be a gynecological cancer specialist nurse. She will answer all questions you may have about your treatment and support you if needed.
Women who face this disease are highly recommended to receive treatment in a special gynecological center. This is exactly where such like teams are based. Therefore, be ready that it may be impossible for you to receive the necessary treatment in your local hospital and that you may have to go to the nearest cancer center.
If the only thing you’ve done so far is consulting with a surgeon, you’re definitely to go to an oncologist before the final decision on your treatment plan is made.
while deciding on your personal treatment plan, the team considers the following factors:
- Your type of cancer.
- The stage of your cancer that tells how far it has developed.
- The grade of your cancer that is defined in accordance with the way cancer cells look under microscope.
- Your general health state
The crux of the matter is that your doctor may be unable to define the stage of your ovarian cancer up until the surgical operation has been performed. While it will be carried out, tissue samples from inside of your abdomen will be taken and examined carefully so that to understand if the cancer has already developed.
The Very Beginning Stage of Ovarian Cancer
Having a borderline tumor means that it’s only the very beginning of cancer that doctors define as stage 1a. The grade is low here and the only necessary thing for you to do is have the attacked ovary and fallopian tube removed surgically. Since there is still the womb and other ovary inside your body, you will be able to get pregnant. There will be samples taken from several areas of your abdomen and pelvis. They will help a surgeon define the certain stage of cancer you have. If there will be cancer cells detected in any of the samples, a need to undergo another operation so that to remove what’s left of cancer may arise.
If your menopause has already started or you don’t want to have any more children in future, the surgeon may recommend you having both the ovaries together with the womb removed. Women dealing with the tumor of this stage very often do not need any other treatment apart from a surgical operation.
Early Stage Ovarian Cancer
The stage of this cancer is 1a. Here the main aim the surgery tries to achieve is removing the affected tissue and tumor and determine the stage for sure. Having figured out the stage, your doctor can decide whether or not there is a necessity for any procedures after the surgical operation.
In the majority of cases, if you’re dealing with the stage 1 ovarian cancer, the surgery is performed so that to:
- Remove your ovaries.
- Remove fallopian tubes.
- Remove the womb together with the cervix.
Once the surgical operation is carried out, your doctor may recommend you undergoing a course of chemotherapy sessions if you have a high risk of the disease recurrence. This is really needed if you have stage 1c ovarian cancer that implies a high grade. The chemotherapy used here is called adjuvant.
Advanced Stage of Ovarian Cancer
If a patient is diagnosed with stage 2, 3 or 4 ovarian cancer, it means that the cancer is advanced. In other words, there are already metastases that have invaded other areas apart from the ovary. In some cases, it’s possible to get rid of the advanced cancer with the help of a surgical operation and chemotherapy that are combined. If there is no way to cure the disease, the main goal that the treatment pursues is keeping the course of cancer under control for as long as possible.
Undergoing a surgical operation is the first and, probably, most effective solution in case of ovarian cancer. While performing an operation, a surgeon does his best in removing as much affected tissue and tumor as possible. The procedure is known as debulking.
Your doctor decides on whether there is a need for it in accordance with several factors:
- The areas the cancer has invaded.
- Your general health condition.
- How aggressive the cancer is or how quickly the cancer is developing.
Some time should pass for you to recover and have a rest after the surgery is carried out. Then, you may start undergoing chemotherapy procedures. There are two possible scenarios here. Either your surgeon has succeeded in removing absolutely all of the cancer or there is still something left behind. In the first case, the chemotherapy is carried out with the view of lowering down the risk of the disease’s recurrence. In the second case, it makes the tumor, that is still inside your organism, smaller. It may even so happen that there is a need for one more surgical operation after it.
Based on the information your surgeon gets from your scans, he or she may tell beforehand if it’s possible to get rid of all the cancer. If it’s impossible, you may be prescribed chemotherapy before the surgical operation. The point is to make the tumor smaller and thus easier to remove. Such like chemotherapy is known as neo adjuvant or primary chemotherapy.
Making Necessary Scans During Chemotherapy
If you’re prescribed primary chemotherapy, the scan will be done halfway through the course so that to see whether the tumor has become smaller. If yes, you now can undergo a surgical operation that doctors refer to as IDS or interval debulking surgery. Then, you may finish your course.
Sometimes it so happens that a certain type of biological therapy known as “bevacizumab” can be quite advantageous in case of advanced cancer if combined with chemotherapy. Women that have mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes are prescribed olaparib (a particular drug) if chemotherapy is no loner capable of keeping the disease under control.
What to do if a Surgical Operation is Impossible?
If there is a really severe case of cancer and your health condition is not that good, it may be impossible to carry out a surgical operation and remove tumor. However, you may take advantage of chemotherapy so that to make the tumor as small as possible and thus slow the development of the disease down. If there are some unpleasant symptoms that really bother you, you may undergo radiation therapy sessions to make them lighter. Do not forget that before prescribing it your doctor needs to know for sure what areas are already invaded.
One more option a doctor may have for you is taking part in clinical trials. You can find more information on the topic in our section devoted to clinical trials and researches.
Deciding on Your Treatment
of course, you’ll need some time to think over all the options you have. No doubt, you will need your family’s support in it and your doctor’s opinion. Go to the page on ovarian cancer treatment to see information on making decision.
Sometimes patients want to hear what a second doctor has to say about their case before making the final decision. If you’re treated by a gynecological oncologist, do not forget to also consult an oncologist and find out if there is a need for chemotherapy in your case. In the majority of cases, doctors don’t mind you getting a second opinion and will gladly refer you to the necessary specialist.
However, keep in mind that a second doctor will only give you his or her opinion. Having consulted him or her doesn’t mean that you’ll be treated by him or her from now on. Your original specialist will still be in charge of your treatment. If you decide to get a second opinion, it should be a real expert in ovarian cancer surgery and not just a general gynecologist.