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Treatment Options for Ovarian Cancer
By Sandra Ray, Staff Writer

(Page 2 of 4)

Stage III Treatment:

Stage III ovarian cancer is treated much the same as stage II cancer, although the chemotherapy involved is much more aggressive. Radiation therapy becomes more likely at this stage, especially given that the cancer is much more aggressive and has spread further into the body. Since the prognosis drops significantly with stage III ovarian cancer, doctors will use combination chemotherapy during their treatment.

Surgery becomes possible both before chemotherapy and after. The second round of surgery is done primarily to ensure that all of the cancerous tissue has been removed and none has escaped undetected, either by the first surgery or by the chemotherapy sessions. Survival rates drop significantly with stage III ovarian cancer, report UMMC, with a five year survival rate of 20 percent.

Stage IV Treatment:

Stage IV ovarian cancer has the poorest prognosis according to UMMC with only 10 percent of women surviving after five years. Doctors concentrate heavily on surgery and chemotherapy in order to treat the disease. More than one round of both types of treatment is often utilized since the disease has metastasized or spread into many different areas of the body by now and can rapidly grow undetected by doctors.

Radiation Therapy Issues:

When assessing the role of radiation therapy, patients and caregivers need to understand the reason why it is used or not used in specific cases. Ovarian cancer cells actually respond quite well to radiation therapy and tend to shrink quickly. Radiation therapy, however, can cause problems for healthy cells n the affected area. For example, when treating ovarian cancer that has moved into the abdomen, doctors do not like to “radiate” the entire abdominal area for fear that healthy tissue will be destroyed by the treatment. (Years ago, this type of approach was used, and it has since lost its popularity.)

If a doctor feels they can focus the area that needs to receive radiation, it is definitely considered as a treatment option. If, however, the whole abdomen needs radiation, the doctor will more likely resort to using different types of chemotherapy to treat the disease rather than risk destroying tissue through radiation and increasing the amount of toxicity in the body.

Treating Recurrent Cancer:

Treating the disease the first time does not guarantee that the disease is gone entirely. Researchers in Rockville, MD reported in 2000 that that “emergence of drug-resistant tumors during therapy for ovarian cancer remains an obstacle to improving long-term outcomes.” In other words, more types of ovarian cancer are becoming resistant to the type of chemotherapy drugs available on the market today making the disease more likely to either continue to spread or to recur after the first round of treatment is completed.


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