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Ovarian Cancer


Ovarian cancer treatment options are:

  • Surgery: Surgery is one of the primary treatments for ovarian cancer. The type and complexity of the surgery depend upon the cancer stage. If the cancer is limited to one ovary, the cancer specialist may remove the affected ovary and the connected fallopian tube. However, both ovaries and fallopian tubes are removed in case cancer has spreads to another ovary as well. If cancer has spread more extensively, the ovaries, fallopian tubes, nearby lymph nodes, uterus, and fatty abdominal tissue would be removed. And, if the cancer is diagnosed at an advanced stage (metastasizing), chemotherapy or radiation therapy can be recommended before or after the surgery.
  • Radiation therapy: There are two types of radiation therapy available to treat ovarian cancer. These are external beam radiation therapy and brachytherapy. In case of ovarian cancer, external beam radiation therapy is most commonly used. It involves guiding the high-energy beam through an external machine (LINAC) onto the cancer cells to damage them. The side effects of external beam radiation therapy include skin changes, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, and vaginal irritation. The use of brachytherapy is less common and involves placing radioactive pellets or seeds inside the body near the cancer site.
  • Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy is most commonly used for treating epithelial ovarian cancer and germ cell tumors. Some cases of stromal tumors may also be treated with chemotherapy. Chemotherapy drugs may be delivered into the blood circulation or the abdomen through a catheter (intraperitoneal chemotherapy). Oncologists usually use chemotherapeutic drugs to treat ovarian cancer, as the combination has more efficacy than monotherapy. A course of chemotherapy for treating ovarian cancer typically has 3 to 6 cycles. One cycle includes the administration of the drug followed by a rest period.
  • Hormonal therapy: Hormonal therapy for ovarian cancer functions by altering the levels of hormones in the blood required for the growth and development of ovarian cancer cells. The drugs included in hormonal therapy works through different mechanisms of action. One class of drugs, called LHRH agonists, works by preventing estrogen synthesis in the ovaries. Another class of drugs is aromatase inhibitors. These drugs inhibit the function of the enzyme aromatase, which converts other hormones into estrogen.
  • Targeted drug therapy: Several proteins and genes are specifically present in the cancer cells responsible for their uncontrolled growth and division. Targeted drug therapy for ovarian cancer interferes with these proteins and genes and kills or stops the growth of cancer cells.
  • Immunotherapy: Immunotherapy for ovarian cancer strengthens the patient's immune system and makes the cancer cells more vulnerable to the immune system. The drugs used in immunotherapy interfere with the synthesis of proteins that prevent immune cells' attack on cancerous cells.

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