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 Cancer

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Treatment Options for Ovarian Cancer
By Sandra Ray, Staff Writer


(Page 3 of 4)

One reason that ovarian cancer is a likely candidate for recurring is due to its low rate of early detection. In cancers other than stage I cancers, the disease has spread outside the ovaries and pelvis, making it more difficult to determine its extent. Doctors at Johns Hopkins Pathology estimate that between 70 and 90 percent of women who are first treated for ovarian cancer will have their cancer recur.

These findings make continuing follow-up treatment with the oncologist and the patientís gynecologist especially important. Early detection is, of course, one of the best ways to treating ovarian cancer if it does recur. Tests to detect its recurrence include blood tests for the CA125 protein or tumor marker, CT and PET scan imaging, as well as the possibility of additional surgical procedures.

When doctors decide to treat a recurring case of ovarian cancer, there are many factors that need to be taken into consideration. Some of these include:

  • How long ago did the patient end their first round of treatment? Patients who ended their treatment only months prior have a lower prognosis than does the patient who managed several years in remission.
  • How did the patient respond to chemotherapy the first time? Since there are varying tolerances to chemotherapy, those patients who had issues relating to toxicity and low red blood cell count will have different treatment issues than those patients who had neither of those issues.
  • Where has the cancer recurred? While it is possible to treat cancer that has recurred in the abdomen area, patients who had or are still having difficulties relating to GI issues may have fewer treatment options than patients who are not facing these problems.
  • Is quality of life more important than treatment of the disease? Doctors will admit that not all recurrences of the disease are treatable, although almost all are willing to try those options until it becomes evident that the treatment simply will not work. Some patients and caregivers may decide that quality of life is more important than the type of treatment that will have to be endured in order for the disease to move into remission again.

These areas are but a sampling of those issues that doctors consider when deciding when to restart treatment and the type of treatment that is used when it is restarted. Communication at this point becomes critical between the doctor, patient, and caregiver to decide the best course of action.

Caregivers play an increasingly important role in the treatment of ovarian cancer. From discussing treatment options to helping patients understand the staging and treatment options available, the caregiver has a great deal of responsibility. Research and communication are the keys to understanding the disease, its progression, and the type of treatment needed at any one particular point.

 

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