Ovarian Cancer: Treatment for Ovarian Cancer
Cancer can be caused by many sources including smoking, genetics, and environmental hazards. Cancer caused by the environment is usually the result of industrial pollution or dumping. Improperly stored hazardous materials can leach chemicals into the soil when wet. Eventually the leaching chemicals may reach the water table and contaminate the groundwater. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) estimates that the incidence of cancer could be reduced by as much as 80-90 percent if environmental causes such as diet, tobacco, and alcohol, as well as radiation, infectious agents, and substances in the air, water, and soil were addressed. You can learn more about Ovarian Cancer here, with topics such as Symptoms, Diagnosis, Staging, Treatment, and more, by selecting from the list above.
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Treatment depends on a number of factors, including the stage of the disease and the general health of the patient. Patients are often treated by a team of specialists. The team may include a gynecologist, a gynecologic oncologist, a medical oncologist, and/or a radiation oncologist. Many different treatments and combinations of treatments are used to treat ovarian cancer.
• Surgery is the usual initial treatment for women diagnosed with ovarian cancer. The ovaries, the fallopian tubes, the uterus, and the cervix are usually removed. This operation is called a hysterectomy with bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy. Often, the surgeon also removes the omentum (the thin tissue covering the stomach and large intestine) and lymph nodes (small organs located along the channels of the lymphatic system) in the abdomen.
Staging during surgery (to find out whether the cancer has spread) generally involves removing lymph nodes, samples of tissue from the diaphragm and other organs in the abdomen, and fluid from the abdomen. If the cancer has spread, the surgeon usually removes as much of the cancer as possible in a procedure called tumor debulking. Tumor debulking reduces the amount of cancer that will have to be treated later with chemotherapy or radiation therapy.
• Chemotherapy is the use of drugs to kill cancer cells. Chemotherapy may be given to destroy any cancerous cells that may remain in the body after surgery, to control tumor growth, or to relieve symptoms of the disease.
Most drugs used to treat ovarian cancer are given by injection into a vein (intravenously, or IV). The drugs can be injected directly into a vein or given through a catheter, a thin tube. The catheter is placed into a large vein and remains there as long as it is needed. Some anticancer drugs are taken by mouth. Whether they are given intravenously or by mouth, the drugs enter the bloodstream and circulate throughout the body.
Another way to give chemotherapy is to put the drug directly into the abdomen through a catheter. With this method, called intraperitoneal chemotherapy, most of the drug remains in the abdomen.
After chemotherapy is completed, second-look surgery may be performed to examine the abdomen directly. The surgeon may remove fluid and tissue samples to see whether the anticancer drugs have been successful.
• Radiation therapy, also called radiotherapy, involves the use of high-energy rays to kill cancer cells. Radiation therapy affects the cancer cells only in the treated area. The radiation may come from a machine (external radiation). Some women receive a treatment called intraperitoneal radiation therapy in which radioactive liquid is put directly into the abdomen through a catheter.
Clinical trials (research studies) to evaluate new ways to treat cancer are an important treatment option
for many women with ovarian cancer. In some studies, all patients receive
the new treatment. In others, doctors compare different therapies by giving
the promising new treatment to one group of patients and the usual (standard)
therapy to another group. Through research, doctors learn new, more
effective ways to treat cancer. More information about treatment studies can
be found in the NCI publication
Taking Part in Clinical Trials: What Cancer Patients Need To Know.
NCI's Web site includes a section on clinical trials at http://cancer.gov/clinical_trials. This section provides detailed information about ongoing studies for ovarian cancer.
Clinical trial information is also available from the
Cancer Information Service by calling 1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237).
The NCI's Cancer.gov Web site provides information from numerous NCI
NCI's cancer information database. PDQ
contains current information on cancer prevention, screening, diagnosis,
treatment, genetics, supportive care, and ongoing clinical trials. Cancer.gov can be accessed at
http://www.cancer.gov on the Internet.
Source: National Cancer Institute www.cancer.gov
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