Your doctor should thoroughly explain the different treatments used for ovarian cancer. There are several methods used to treat ovarian cancer. Surgery, radiation and chemotherapy are the three main methods used to destroy the cancer cells.
Surgery is used to remove the cancer. When both ovaries and fallopian tubes are removed the surgery is called, salpingo-oophorectomy. The removal of the uterus is called a hysterectomy, and the omentum, which is the thin, fatty pad of tissue covering the intestines, nearby lymph nodes, and tissue from the pelvis or abdomen may also be removed.
If the cancer has spread from the ovaries to other tissues or organs the surgeon will remove as much of the cancer as if possible during surgery, which is called “debulking” surgery.
The surgeon will take into consideration your desire to have children, by leaving one ovary and one fallopian tube so that the woman may be able to conceive.
This decision must be made between the patient and the surgeon prior to surgery. This option is if the woman desires to have the ability to conceive after the treatment is finished. This illustrates the importance of involving the woman in decision-making process of planning the treatment.
The amount of pain and the time it takes to heal after surgery is different for each woman.
Chemotherapy is the use of anticancer drugs as a method of destroying cancer cells. Chemotherapy is usually started after surgery is first done to remove the cancer.
Some women may have chemotherapy before surgery. There are different ways to administer the chemotherapy drugs including by intravenous therapy, directly into the abdomen using a thin tube, or orally. The chemotherapy is usually given in cycles and a rest period in between each cycle. Some chemotherpy is done in a hospital and others in a clinic or even at home.
There are side effects from the chemotherapy including hair loss, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, mouth and lip sores, poor appetite, hearing loss, kidney damage, joint pain, and a tingling and or numbness in hands and feet.
Radiation therapy is a method that uses high-energy rays in order to kill the cancer. There is a series of treatments that only take a few minutes to administer using a big machine. Side effects from the radiation may be vomiting, diarrhea, bloody stools, and also red, dry or tender skin in the area being treated.
The treatment itself for cancer may lead to other medical problems that will then need supportive care to deal with the health issues could include a swollen abdomen, a blocked intestine, swollen legs, the experience of shortness of breath, or a overwhelming feeling of sadness.
Women going through treatment for ovarian cancer should also know that it is vital to take good care of themselves after treatment including staying on a healthy diet, getting good rest, and exercising daily so that they can stay active. They should join support groups whenever possible to help others and to receive support for the healing process that is an ongoing project.