Treatment for Ovarian Cancer
Diagnosing ovarian cancer can be difficult since many ovarian cancer symptoms can be easily confused with other ailments. As a result, most women aren't diagnosed until they reach the advanced stages of the illness. There is no clinical test for ovarian cancer. However, a variety of techniques are used in order to diagnose the disease.
Pelvic Exam: Every woman over the age of 21 should have a pelvic exam annually. During this exam, the doctor palpates inside the vagina in order to feel for abnormal tissue masses that could be indicative of ovarian cancer.
Ultrasound: Ultrasound devices can relay pictures of your pelvic region on to a television monitor. Doctors can then analyze these pictures for abnormal growth in the area.
CA-125 Blood Test: This blood test analyzes levels of Cancer Antigen 125 in your blood stream. Women with ovarian cancer often have higher than normal levels of CA 125. However, this blood test is fairly inaccurate in detecting the disease in its early stages.
Ovarian Cancer Treatment
Once you have been diagnosed with ovarian cancer, treatment is of the utmost concern. It is important to stop the growth of the cancer before it can travel throughout your body.
Surgery is the first step taken in treating ovarian cancer. Ovarian cancer surgery needs to be performed in order to determine the type of cancer you have and its stage. Your surgeon will make a vertical cut in your abdomen in order to expose the pelvic region. From this, she will be able to examine the extent to which your cancer has grown. Samples of the cancer will be taken and all visible tumors will be removed. Your surgeon will likely remove at least one of you ovaries for examination. If your cancer is advanced, both ovaries and fallopian tubes will be removed. A hysterectomy is also possible.
After you have surgery, it is likely that you will receive chemotherapy treatment. Chemotherapy is designed to kill cancer cells and prevent them from multiplying. Chemotherapy consists of rounds of combined drug therapies, usually Paraplatin and Taxol. Side effects of chemotherapy can be harsh and include: fatigue, nausea, low blood count, and hair loss.
Radiation treatment is rarely used in order to kill ovarian cancer. However, it is used among those people whose bodies have been cleared of all cancer during initial surgery. Radiation therapy uses high frequency x-rays in order to damage and kill cancer cells. Side effects include: diarrhea, nausea, fatigue, and low blood counts.
Ovarian Cancer Prognosis
The prognosis for ovarian cancer is generally low, often because it takes so long to diagnose women with the disease. This means that by the time they receive treatment, most women are already in advanced stages. If the cancer is caught early on, though, there is a 90% to 98% 5 year survival rate. Generally however, the 5 year survival rate is between 30% and 38%.
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