Ovarian Cancer Treatment

Ovarian cancer, a condition characterized by an overgrowth of malignant cells in one or both of the ovaries, is one of the deadliest and under-recognized cancers affecting women. Every year, there are more than 25,000 women that suffer from this deadly disease. Half of them are most likely to die within a period of five years.

Early Detection: Improves Ovarian Cancer Treatment

The sad thing about ovarian cancer is that during the early stage, there are usually no signs and symptoms that tell you about this disorder. Symptoms start to show up when the cancer is already widespread, making ovarian cancer treatment too difficult.

However, there are women who are lucky enough to detect the symptoms early on; hence, diagnosis is hastened up and ovarian cancer treatment is given immediately. Tests such as pelvic and rectal screening, ultrasound, x-ray and laparoscopy may help a doctor detect tumors in the ovaries.

At present, almost 75 percent of women diagnosed with ovarian cancer are not treated immediately due to late detection of the cancer. Experts say that when detection of the cancer is made early and when ovarian cancer treatment is given immediately, women diagnosed with the disease have 90% survival rate since the cancer can be easily treated in its early stage.

Diagnosis and Ovarian Cancer Treatment

When symptoms finally show up and the doctor suspects that a patient may have ovarian cancer, laparoscopy is conducted to confirm diagnosis. It is a direct visual examination of the abdominal cavity, the ovaries, the exterior of the fallopian tubes and the uterus using an instrument that is inserted just underneath the navel.

Upon confirmation of ovarian cancer, the doctor explores the extent of the cancer and submits the patient for surgery. The surgeon removes the growth or much of the malignant tissue. In most cases, the whole ovary or both of the ovaries and the fallopian tubes are removed as they the malignant cancer cells have already affected these areas. This kind of surgery is called salpingooophorectomy. If the malignant cells affect the uterus, hysterectomy is conducted (surgical removal of the uterus).

Surgery is usually ensued by radiotherapy, which is the use of high energy radiation to destroy malignant cancer cells in the body and shrink remaining tumors, which may later on become malignant. This procedure may be done using an external machine or a radioactive material put inside the body near the malignant cells.

The patient also undergoes chemotherapy, whereby the patient is given anti-cancer drugs to help hasten up ovarian cancer treatment. Drugs may be administered orally (through the mouth), intravenously (through the veins) or through the muscles (by means of injection of a needle.

Most anticancer drugs given to the patient have chemical compounds that are toxic to the malignant cells; thus, growth of the cancer cells is reduced or stopped. These anticancer drugs are called cytotoxic drugs. Other anticancer drugs used are synthetic forms of sex hormones such as androgen drugs and progesterone drugs.

In most instances, different kinds of anticancer drugs are prescribed in combination in order to speed up ovarian cancer treatment. However, not all ovarian cancer patients are given with the same anticancer drugs. The drugs given to a patient depends on the extent or stage of development of the ovarian cancer and her general health condition.