Annual checkups with a gynecologist allow for preventive treatment and early detection of health problems. However, there are times when these routine visits are not enough. Certain issues and life changes require a visit to the gynecologist between regular checkups.While waiting until one’s next annual checkup may be okay, scheduling a visit between these appointments…
Ovarian Cancer Treatment Options From Your Gynecologist
An ovarian cancer diagnosis is often overwhelming and frightening. However, advancements in science and medicine provide hope for remission with effective ovarian cancer treatment. As you navigate this challenging journey, your gynecologist can help guide you through various treatment options. These options can empower you to make informed decisions about your health.
Ovarian cancer treatment options from a gynecologist
Surgery is usually the first line of treatment for ovarian cancer. The extent of the surgery depends on the stage and type of ovarian cancer. The gynecologist will recommend either a total hysterectomy (removal of the uterus and cervix) or a bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy (removal of both ovaries and fallopian tubes). The gynecologist may sometimes recommend removing lymph nodes, the colon, the small intestine, and other surrounding tissues.
Surgical interventions can be performed through traditional open surgery or minimally invasive procedures like laparoscopy or laparotomy. Minimally invasive techniques typically result in smaller incisions, faster recovery times, and fewer complications. However, the type of surgery depends on the patient's stage of cancer and if it has spread to other areas of the body.
Chemotherapy is a systemic treatment that uses powerful drugs to target and kill cancer cells throughout the body. Following surgery, it is recommended to eliminate any remaining cancer cells and prevent the cancer from recurring. Chemotherapy can be administered intravenously or orally, depending on the specific drugs prescribed.
The gynecologist will collaborate with an oncologist to determine the most appropriate chemotherapy regimen for an individual's ovarian cancer. While chemotherapy can cause side effects such as nausea, hair loss, and fatigue, the patient's medical team will work together to manage these symptoms. This collaborative care will improve the patient's quality of life during treatment.
Radiation therapy is a localized treatment option that uses high-energy rays to target and destroy cancer cells in specific areas of the body. Some gynecologists may recommend radiation therapy for ovarian cancer in certain situations, such as the following:
- Postsurgery: After surgical removal of the tumor, a gynecologist may recommend radiation therapy to eliminate remaining cancer cells in the pelvic region or reduce the risk of cancer returning.
- Inoperable tumors: In cases where surgery is not an option for advanced-stage disease or other medical reasons, radiation therapy can be a primary treatment to manage tumor growth and relieve symptoms.
- Complementary care: Radiation therapy can also be used as complementary care to relieve symptoms and improve the quality of life for patients with advanced ovarian cancer. It can help shrink tumors without causing pain or pressure on nearby organs.
Targeted drug therapy
Targeted drug therapy is a type of ovarian cancer treatment that targets cancer cells based on their specific and unique features. Unlike chemotherapy, which can affect healthy cells along with cancerous ones, targeted therapy aims to minimize damage to healthy tissues. A gynecologist may use it as a standalone treatment or in combination with other methods like surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation.
Targeted drug therapy depends on the specific molecular or genetic abnormalities unique to each patient's ovarian cancer. When the drugs find the cells they are designed to target, they work to:
- Change proteins in the cancer cells
- Make the patient's immune system attack and kill cancerous cells
- Deliver toxins to cancer cells while leaving normal cells alone
- Stop making new blood vessels that feed the cancer cells
- Block or turn off chemical signals that cause cancer cells to multiply
Depending on the type of drug, the gynecologist may prescribe it orally or intravenously (IV).
Some ovarian cancers are hormone-sensitive and rely on hormones like estrogen to grow and spread. In these cases, a gynecologist may recommend hormone therapy to block the effects of these hormones and slow down tumor growth. This treatment option is more commonly used to treat ovarian stromal tumors than epithelial ovarian cancer.
The gynecologist will conduct hormone receptor tests to determine whether hormone therapy is appropriate. A candidate for this treatment will receive medications that either reduce hormone production in the body or block hormone receptors in cancer cells.
Immunotherapy is a new approach to ovarian cancer treatment that uses the body's immune system to target and destroy cancer cells. The immune system's ability to recognize and attack cancer cells can be affected by various factors. This type of therapy can be standalone or combined with other treatments, such as chemotherapy and targeted therapy.
Pembrolizumab (Keytruda) is a type of immunotherapy. Currently, it is only approved for some types of ovarian cancer. The patient gets this treatment intravenously every three weeks. Pembrolizumab allows immune cells to recognize proteins in cancer cells. A gynecologist may suggest a clinical trial with this treatment if the patient has advanced ovarian cancer.
Schedule an appointment to get started
Finding out you have ovarian cancer is a challenging experience. However, you are not alone in this journey. Our gynecology and medical team are here to support you and provide the best possible care. Call our office today to schedule an appointment and get started with a personalized ovarian cancer treatment plan.
Request an appointment here: https://fresnoobgyn.com or call Camilla L. Marquez, MD at (559) 424-1180 for an appointment in our Fresno office.
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