According to statistics, ovarian cancer (OC) today is diagnosed to 16 of 100 thousand women. Usually, the pathology develops in menopause, although there has recently been a tendency towards increase of its incidence in young patients. There are three approaches to ovarian cancer treatment, i.e. surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. When choosing a specific method, the physician takes into account the tumor stage and age of the woman.
Surgery plays a paramount role in treatment of all stages of ovarian cancer. The goal of surgery is to remove as many cancer cells as possible.
At stage I or II, the patients are indicated resection of the ovaries along with the uterus, fallopian tubes and a large gland. The nearby lymph nodes are excised too, when required. Usually, the intervention is performed by open access, allowing for a complete audit of all pelvic organs.
For young women with stage IA of the disease, only one ovary and fallopian tube on the affected side may be removed. This approach preserves the reproductive function, but creates a higher risk of cancer recurrence. Therefore, the patient should be observed continuously by the oncologist after surgery.
At stage III or IV, when the cancer spreads to the other organs, the so-called cytoreductive surgery is performed. Its task is to remove as much tumor volume and metastasis as possible. Thereby the patient's body is prepared for subsequent chemotherapy.
The recovery time after surgery varies from patient to patient. On the average, the return to regular life requires 4 to 8 weeks.
Upon chemotherapy, a woman is prescribed the drugs slowing down the tumor growth. Treatment may be carried out before or after surgery, in the case of the cancer relapse.
Cisplatin, carboplatin and taxol are used as the first-line drugs. The drugs are administered intravenously through a drip. One procedure may take from a few hours to a couple of days. A break for a few days can be made between procedures, so that the patient’s body had time to recover.
The side effects depend on a particular drug and its dose. Most often, patients report:
- hair loss,
- numbness in the extremities.
The treatment is conducted in cycles, the number of which is determined by the attending physician.
Radiation therapy is rarely used for EOC, mainly for disease recurrence, in combination with chemotherapy. Irradiation is carried out in the hospital X-ray department. The course typically consists of 1 to 10 procedures.