By Sandra Ray, Staff Writer
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.
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).
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
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.