After a accurate diagnosis has been obtained, a patient and their local physician will need to discuss the possible ovarian cancer treatments that are available to the person. There are several factors that may influence which specific treatment for ovarian cancer is chosen. The stage of the condition will also play a role in choosing the best treatment method as well as the patient’s personal preferences. In cases that have already reached the latter stages, treatment may be more aimed at providing relief from the symptoms as the prognosis is not good. On the other hand, cases that are detected in the early stages have a good survival rate when the condition is treated before the cancer has spread to other abdominal areas.
The primary treatment for ovarian cancer is removal of the tumor through a surgical operation. This is effective in cases where the cancer has not spread and is located only on or in the ovary. Borderline tumors can also be treated with this type of surgery even when they have moved outside the ovaries. In most cases, some radiation therapy will be needed after the surgery to make sure all of the cancerous cells have been destroyed. Chemotherapy is the most common form of radiation therapy that is used, but other variations may be used as well. Chemotherapy may also be used prior to the surgery to reduce the number of cancerous cells that will need to be removed. The operation should be completed by a gynecologic oncology expert for the best possible results. These specialists have a higher survival rate that those obtained with general surgeons and gynecologists.
Depending on the specific stage and grade of the patient’s condition, the surgical procedure can be more complicated. In the basic operation, only the affected ovary and fallopian tube will typically be removed. However, in cases where the tumors have spread, it may be necessary to remove both ovaries, both of the fallopian tubes, and the uterus. In advanced stages of ovarian cancer, it may not be possible to remove all of the cancer. In these cases, a process known as debulking will occur. The surgeon will remove as much of the cancerous cells as possible and then aggressive radiation therapy will be used to treat the remaining cells.
An alternative ovarian cancer treatment option for cases that are already in the later stages is intraperitoneal chemotherapy. This process is still in the clinical trial phase, but early results suggest that the average survival time may be increased by using this method. However, this form of chemotherapy can have many significant side effects and less than half of the patients in the clinical trial were able to complete the full treatment. It is thought that future chemotherapy medications will provide an better alternative ovarian cancer treatment and reduce these negative side effects. Radiation therapy is commonly avoided in patients that are in very advanced stages as the vital organs may not be able to withstand the problems associated with these ovarian cancer treatments.