As we all know, ovarian cancer refers to the malignant growth that starts from one or both ovaries. Here is a brief overview about the treatment for this condition.
Ovaries are the female reproductive glands, which produce the eggs and the sex hormones. Uncontrolled growth of cells in the ovaries is termed ovarian cancer. These cells can form a mass of tissues called tumor. Some tumors, especially those in the ovaries, can be cancerous. Some ovarian cysts can also turn malignant, in rare cases.
For proper treatment of this disease, it is necessary to find out the extent of growth of the malignant tumor. For this purpose, ovarian cancer can be classified into four stages. Stage I denotes the presence of cancer cells inside and one the surfaces of one or both the ovaries, and in the abdomen fluid. Stage II refers to the spread of cancer to the surrounding tissues. Other than the ovaries, cancer cells can be found on the fallopian tubes, uterus, and the tissues and other organs in the pelvis.
In stage III, cancer cells spread to the tissues outside the pelvis, and can be found in the lymph nodes of the upper abdomen and pelvis. In some cases, cancer cells can be found on the surface of the liver. Stage IV refers to spread of cancer outside the pelvis and abdomen, and it may be found inside liver, lungs, and other organs of the body. Treatment for this disease depends on the stage of cancer growth. Generally, ovarian cancer treatment includes surgery and chemotherapy, but in some cases, radiation therapy is also required.
This is one of the most common procedures related to ovarian cancer treatment. In some cases, surgery is also intended to find out the stage of cancer. Samples of tissues from the pelvis and abdomen may be taken to find out the extent of cancer. Surgery involves removal of one or both the ovaries, uterus, and fallopian tubes. If the patient wants to conceive in future, then only the affected ovary and fallopian tube are removed, but this is possible only if the cancer is in its early stages. Surgical removal of one ovary is unilateral oophorectomy; removal of both ovaries is termed bilateral oophorectomy.
Salpingectomy refers to removal of fallopian tubes, and hysterectomy denotes removal of the uterus. Removal of one ovary and the fallopian tube is termed unilateral salpingo-oophorectomy. If the cancer is spread (advanced stages), then ‘debulking surgery’ is performed, to remove as much as cancer cells as possible. In such cases, the thin fatty tissues within the abdomen (omentum), nearby lymph nodes, etc., will be removed, along with the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and the uterus. It is always better to approach a gynecologic oncologist to perform ovarian cancer surgery.
Chemotherapy is administration of anti-cancer drugs, in order to kill the remaining cancer cells after the surgery. In some cases, surgery is done after chemotherapy. Usually, more than one drug is involved in chemotherapy. These drugs are given through the veins. In some cases, they are administered as tablets to be taken orally. They can also be given directly into the abdomen, and such procedure is called intraperitoneal (IP) chemotherapy. Sessions of chemotherapy have regular intervals. Treatment period is succeeded by a resting period and vice versa. This therapy can sometimes affect the normal cells, like blood cells and cells in the hair root.
Directing high energy X-rays to the affected part, in order to kill the cancer cells, is called radiation therapy. It is useful during the initial stages of ovarian cancer. If the cancer has spread to other organs, then radiation therapy is not advisable, as it can cause damage to normal cells. Hence, radiation therapy is scarcely used for ovarian cancer treatment, especially in those with advance stages of cancer.
In its initial stages, ovarian cancer is easy to treat and cure. Once spread, it can cause complications. Hence, it is very important to consult a gynecologist, as soon as the symptoms appear. Symptoms include diarrhea, constipation or gas, abdominal pain, breathing trouble, back pain, bloating, and abnormal vaginal bleeding.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice. Visiting your physician is the safest way to diagnose and treat any health condition.