Ovarian Cancer Treatment Methods

If you, or someone you love, have ovarian cancer, this can be a very stressful time in your life.  It's important to be as informed as possible about your options and to understand the various treatments that are available for this type of cancer.  The treatment options for ovarian cancer depend a great deal on the stage of the disease that the patient is at, and how much the cancer has spread.  There are four main stages of ovarian cancer which indicate the extent of the cancer in the body, and the possible treatment options.

Ovarian Cancer Stages

Stage I cancer means that the cancer is confined to one or both ovaries.  It has not spread to the uterus or to other areas of the body.  In Stage II cancer, either one or both of the ovaries have the cancer, and the uterus and/or fallopian tubes do as well.  In Stage III cancer, the cancer has spread beyond the ovaries and is in the lymph nodes or other sites outside of the pelvis.  It has not spread beyond the abdominal cavity at this point.  The last stage, Stage IV cancer, indicates that the cancer is in one or both of the ovaries and it has spread outside the abdomen or inside the liver.

Treatment Options

The treatment will depend on the stage of the disease, the patient's age and overall health and the histologic cell type.  When the cancer is discovered, the doctor will perform a biopsy to determine the stage of the disease and to recommend treatment.  This is determined by the gynecologic oncologist and the pathologist who analyzes the tissues under a microscope.  Make sure, during these meetings, that you ask many questions and get all of the answers that you need about your situation, prognosis and treatment options.  

Stage I Treatment

Women with Stage I ovarian cancer will usually have a total abdominal hysterectomy that removes both ovaries and the fallopian tubes.  If the woman is young and the disease has been confined to one ovary, it is possible to just have an ovary and fallopian tube removed without a hysterectomy.  It's possible that this will be the only treatment if it is a contained, low grade cancer.  If it is of a higher grade, the patient may also receive chemotherapy.

State II Treatment

Treatment usually involves a hysterectomy and a sampling of the lymph nodes to see if the cancer has spread.  After the surgical procedure, treatment will either involve chemotherapy alone or chemotherapy with radiation therapy.

Stage III

Treatment at this stage is the same as for Stage II ovarian cancer.  The patient will have surgery, will receive chemotherapy, possibly with radiation therapy and may have more surgery to find and remove any remaining cancer.

Stage IV

At this stage, the patient will undergo therapy to remove as much of the tumor as possible and will then have combination chemotherapy.

It is very important for women with ovarian cancer to take care of themselves.  This includes eating as well as you can and staying as active as possible.  Make sure to have enough protein in your diet to keep up your strength.  Talk to your doctor about the side effects of treatment, and the preventative measures that you can take to keep up your strength.  

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