A diagnosis of ovarian cancer can be devastating. The good news is that the five-year survival rate of this type of cancer is 92 percent if found before it spreads. Unfortunately, only 15 percent of cases are found early enough, making early detection essential for those at risk. If you are diagnosed with ovarian cancer, you will want to learn more about treatments and your options are.
Most cases of ovarian cancer are treated with a combination of surgery and chemotherapy. Surgery for this disease involves removing not only the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and uterus, but also nearby lymph nodes as well as any abdominal tissue to which the cancer has spread. The goal of the surgery is not only to remove as much of the tumor as possible, but also to determine how far it has spread so that a proper course of treatment can be determined.
After the surgery, you may be prescribed a course of chemotherapy to kill any remaining cancer cells and reduce your risk of recurrence. In some cases, you may be a candidate for targeted therapy, which may destroy cancer cells directly rather than affect the entire body as chemotherapy does. Hormone therapy is often an option, not only to make sure you are free of cancer but to prevent it from returning in the future.
While the surgical treatment for ovarian cancer makes it impossible to have children in the future, finding the cancer early enough may allow for a less extensive surgery, removing only one ovary and one Fallopian tube thus preserving reproductive function.
Unfortunately, because early stage ovarian cancer rarely causes symptoms, early detection is challenging. People at high risk, such as those who have a family history of breast or ovarian cancer, may want to consult a genetic counselor who can test for a gene mutation that can cause the disease. Others at high risk include women between the ages of 50 and 60, anyone who has undergone hormone replacement therapy, and women who have never been pregnant, who smoke, who use an IUD, who have undergone fertility treatment, or who have polycystic ovary syndrome.
See your doctor right away if you experience unusual symptoms without explanation, such as bloating, a constant “full” feeling, unexplained weight loss, pelvic discomfort, constipation or diarrhea, or frequent urination. He or she will use a physical exam combined with imaging and other diagnostic tests to confirm or rule out ovarian cancer.
The doctors and staff at South Lake OB/GYN Advanced Surgery might be able to answer any questions or concerns you might have about ovarian cancer and possible treatment options. The staff, made of professional doctors and nurses, will help you be at ease once you schedule a consultation appointment.