How To Treat Ovarian Cancer

January 3, 2023

When an individual develops malignancy in one of the small organs that produce eggs or the ovaries, it is referred to as ovarian cancer. Early ovarian cancer usually does not produce symptoms in an individual, but when symptoms do manifest, they include abdominal swelling, abdominal bloating, feeling full quickly, unintentional weight loss, pelvic discomfort, bowel habit changes, and frequent urination. The exact causes of ovarian cancer are not clear, but factors that increase an individual's risk of developing ovarian cancer include older age, inherited gene mutations, family history of ovarian cancer, age at the start of menstruation, and age at the end of menstruation. Diagnosis of ovarian cancer is made with the use of a pelvic exam, CT scans, pelvic ultrasound, blood tests, and surgical ovarian biopsy.

There are several methods available to treat an individual's ovarian cancer.


An individual affected by ovarian cancer may need to undergo chemotherapy as part of their treatment plan. The first line of treatment for ovarian cancer is usually surgical excision of as many cancerous cells as possible. However, the cancer cells spread and start to hide throughout the abdomen in most cases, so another method of elimination is needed following excision surgery. Chemotherapy is a treatment method that utilizes one or more drugs that kill off cancerous cells in the body. The standard mixture of chemotherapy drugs used in the treatment of ovarian cancer is cisplatin or carboplatin combined with docetaxel or paclitaxel. Chemotherapy is administered intravenously through a vein into the bloodstream, or it is administered directly into the abdominal cavity with a catheter. When chemotherapy drugs are directly administered into the abdominal cavity, it is referred to as intraperitoneal chemotherapy. In some individuals who have ovarian cancer, chemotherapy is administered intravenously and directly into the abdomen.

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An oophorectomy may be necessary for the successful treatment of ovarian cancer. Oophorectomy is a surgical procedure utilized to remove a single or both of a woman's ovaries. A woman affected by an early stage of ovarian cancer in one of her ovaries may only need to undergo a unilateral oophorectomy, where just one ovary is excised. Bilateral oophorectomy is a surgical procedure where both ovaries are removed. Salpingo-oophorectomy is a surgical procedure where the ovary or ovaries are removed along with the fallopian tube or tubes. Oophorectomy is a surgical procedure usually done in women who have ovarian cancer who want to preserve their uterus and the opposite ovary so they may still be able to bear children one day. An oophorectomy may be combined with other surgical procedures to remove more reproductive and pelvic organs in a woman affected by advanced ovarian cancer.

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Total Hysterectomy And Oophorectomy

A woman with advanced ovarian cancer may need to undergo an oophorectomy and total hysterectomy. A total hysterectomy is a surgical procedure where the uterus and cervix are completely removed from the body. The most advanced form of ovarian cancer is often treated with a radical hysterectomy with bilateral Salpingo-oophorectomy. A radical hysterectomy with bilateral Salpingo-oophorectomy is a procedure used to treat ovarian and uterine cancer where the ovaries, fallopian tubes, cervix, uterus, the upper part of the vagina, and tissue that surrounds these components are all removed from the body. This type of extreme approach to treating ovarian cancer is known to provide patients with the best chance of survival and the least risk for cancer reoccurrence. A patient who has had a radical hysterectomy with bilateral Salpingo-oophorectomy, a total hysterectomy, and a bilateral oophorectomy will be unable to bear children.

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Surgical Debulking

A patient affected by later stages of ovarian cancer like stage III and stage IV ovarian cancer may need to undergo surgical debulking. Surgical debulking is a surgical procedure that aims to excise as much of the cancerous ovarian tumor as possible. The primary goal of surgical debulking is to remove all visible cancer and tumors larger than one centimeter. Other organs in the body may be affected when patients undergo surgical debulking to treat their ovarian cancer. In some cases, a piece of the colon will need to be removed to ensure the proper debulking of cancer. A piece of the small intestine may also need to be removed during surgical debulking for it to be successful. The intestines are either sewn directly back together after the diseased piece has been removed, or a stoma or ileostomy is made in the abdomen. In some cases, surgical debulking may require the removal of a piece of the bladder. A catheter is installed in the bladder until it can recover.

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A woman with ovarian cancer may need to undergo a cystectomy, a procedure used in patients who have very early-stage ovarian cancer isolated to a cyst in only one of their ovaries. This type of surgical intervention is done when the patient desires to become pregnant in the future, as it preserves the affected ovary. A cystectomy may not be possible in all patients affected by early-stage ovarian cancer. There is a risk that the malignancy-containing ovarian cyst becoming ruptured during the cystectomy, so extra care is taken to ensure the mass does not spill into the pelvic cavity. Because a cystectomy is only beneficial in cases where the patient wishes to become pregnant in the future and the cancer is isolated to a cyst, it is one of the least common surgical procedures to be performed. Most cases of ovarian cancer are diagnosed when the patient is in the later stages of the disease.

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