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Treatment Options for Ovarian Cancer
By Sandra Ray, Staff Writer

(Page 1 of 4)

According to the latest statistics from the American Cancer Society, ovarian cancer ranks number eight on the list of cancers to affect women. It is also ranks as the fifth most deadly. Ovarian cancer is largely silent until it has spread beyond the ovaries. There are few tests that reliably detect ovarian cancer, making regular screenings important, coupled with providing your family doctor with information about how your body feels in relation to your overall health. Sometimes symptoms speak louder than tests when it comes to ovarian cancer.

Treatment options vary widely, depending on the staging of the disease. Almost all will involve some type of surgery to remove the affected tissue. The extent of chemotherapy and radiation therapy is determined by the stage of the cancer and the patientís options for successful treatment.

Stage I Treatment:

In Stage I epithelial ovarian cancer, surgical treatment generally involves removal of one or both ovaries. Since the disease has not spread beyond the ovaries at this point, chemotherapy may not be required. Doctors may try to preserve at least one ovary in women who are young enough to still have children as long as it does not appear that the disease has spread. A complete hysterectomy is also an option to physicians at this stage. Doctors will also biopsy nearby tissue to be assured that the cancer has not spread further. A biopsy of the lymph tissue is also included since cancer spreads most rapidly through the lymphatic system.

Some doctors will recommend a low level of chemotherapy if they feel that the cancer is likely to recur. Keep in mind that less than 20 percent of all ovarian cancer cases are detected at this early stage, making chemotherapy and other treatment forms more likely as the seriousness of the cancer increases. This stage also has the best prognosis at five years, with approximately 90 percent of women surviving according to statistics released from the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC).

Stage II Treatment:

With Stage II cancer, the disease has spread beyond one or both ovaries and into the stomach area. It is more aggressive and will require surgery in order to remove tissue affected by the cancer. Almost all surgeons will perform a complete hysterectomy and biopsy surrounding tissue to determine the extent of the cancer. Lymphatic tissue biopsies are also performed.

Chemotherapy will definitely be included in the treatment plan since the disease could have spread further than the cells detected in the surgery. The types of chemotherapy vary and usually include a combination of more than one type. Radiation therapy enters into the treatment mix at this point as well, with some doctors using it while others prefer to use chemotherapy only. Prognosis for this stage is still fairly high, with five year survival rates as high as 60 to 80 percent.


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