Ovarian Cancer 101: Know Your Treatment Options
Ovarian Cancer 101: Know Your Treatment Options
What happens next? This may be the first thing that comes to mind if you or someone you love is one of the almosts 20,000 women ovarian cancer is diagnosed in the United States every year.
Navigating an ovarian cancer diagnosis can feel overwhelming, especially when it comes to treatment options. And while it goes without saying that every case is different, it’s important to talk to your healthcare professional (HCP) to find the best plan for you.
In the meantime, here’s what you need to know about ovarian cancer treatments.
What is ovarian cancer?
What are the types of ovarian cancer?
There are several types – and subtypes – of ovarian cancer. The most common is cancer/epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC), which compensates for approx 9 out of 10 cases of ovarian cancer. Serous epithelial ovarian cancer is the more common subtype.
Most treatment options focus on EOC as it makes up the majority of cases. (Other types, such as stromal and germ cell ovarian cancer, they explain less than 3% of cases together.)
How is ovarian cancer treated?
Treatment plans for ovarian cancer are different for every person. Options vary by type and stage (the size of the tumor and how far away it is the cancer has spread from the ovary) and your overall health.
Common ovarian cancer treatment options include:
Surgery is done to remove the tumor and to find out the stage of the cancer. Often, surgery for EOC is a hysterectomy which removes the uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries, along with some pelvic and abdominal lymph nodes and the omentum (which is a fat pad that covers part of the abdomen). Fluids and other tissues could also be taken for testing. If the cancer is more advanced, the surgery may be more extensive.
Chemotherapy and radiation
The goal of chemotherapy? Destroy any microscopic cancer cells — think of them as tiny grains of sand — that may be present. Chemotherapy is a systemic treatment, which means it affects the whole body. On the other hand, local treatment options like radiation target a specific area.
Targeted drug therapy
Targeted therapy uses drugs to attack parts of cancer cells that make them different from normal, healthy cells. An example: PARP inhibitorswhich can help you improve progression-free survival – this is basically when the disease is still in the body but not getting worse. Targeted drug therapy is determined by factors such as the stage of the cancer and whether you have it BRCA1 and/or BRCA2 gene mutations.
Who makes up the ovarian cancer treatment team?
Many of the important things in life require a village, and that goes for ovarian cancer treatment, too. The healthcare team may include:
- Gynecological oncologist: a gynecologist who specializes in treating cancer in the female reproductive organs. They may perform surgery and prescribe chemotherapy and/or other treatments. Research suggests what to see at gynecologist oncologist it can help you achieve better surgical and overall results.
- Medical oncologist: A doctor who treats cancer with medicine, including chemotherapy and targeted therapy.
- Radiation oncologists: Doctors who provide targeted radiation treatment.
- Nurses/Physician Assistants and Nurses: Healthcare professionals involved in all aspects of care, including after surgery.
- Geneticist/Genetic Counselor: A geneticist is a health care professional who tests for genetic mutations, such as in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, provides a diagnosis, and decides on personalized therapies to treat the genetic condition. A genetic counselor provides advice and education about test results and helps people cope with the diagnosis.
Cancer social workers: Help you navigate the non-medical aspects of treatment as well as access support services, such as counseling and support groups. They can also help with emotional and mental health.
- Navigators/Patient Advocates: Help support you throughout your treatment. They can help you communicate with your care team, make appointments, and deal with your insurance company. They can also help connect you with social, financial and legal support.
- Dieticians: They help you understand what to eat and how to get the nutrition you need during treatment.
- Caregivers: can be a professional or a family member or friend. They can help offer emotional, physical, and practical support throughout the process.
Palliative Care Team: A care team that includes doctors, nurses, social workers, and spiritual counselors who specialize in improving how happy and comfortable you are during treatment.
What are the survival rates of ovarian cancer?
If you’re wondering if ovarian cancer is treatable, know this: Like many other cancers, the sooner it’s diagnosed, the better. When ovarian cancer is found early, five years the survival rate is 94%meaning 94 out of 100 people are still alive five years later.
The downside is that ovarian cancer is difficult to diagnose because basic screening tests rarely detect early-stage cancers. Also, common ovarian cancer symptoms such as bloating and pelvic pain are easy to ignore. Often, when cancer is caught, it is more advanced. One way to help catch ovarian cancer early is to know your family history and keep an eye on it Anyone symptoms.
This resource was created with support from Merck.
- Too many women die of ovarian cancer. Valerie Palmieri is on a mission to change that. ›
- Ovarian cancer is not a death sentence ›
- Ovarian cancer >
- Ovarian cancer: Know the symptoms and risk factors ›