Ovarian Cancer Specifics
If you or someone you love has ovarian cancer, you certainly want to become educated about this cancer, its diagnosis and its treatment. As with other cancers, there are a number of degrees to the cancer and many treatment options. Becoming more informed about the cancer can help you, or someone you love, to make educated decisions about their treatment options for ovarian cancer.
Ovarian Cancer Stages
There are four stages of ovarian cancer that doctors use to indicate the extent of the cancer in the body and the treatment options available to the patient. Stage I means that the cancer is found in either one or both of the ovaries. It has not yet spread from the ovaries to the uterus or to other areas of the body. Stage II cancer means that one or both of the ovaries have been affected and that the uterus and/or fallopian tubes have as well. In Stage III, the cancer is in the lymph nodes or in other areas that are outside of the pelvis. During Stage IV, the cancer has spread beyond the abdomen or inside the liver.
Treatment Options and Ideas
You will decide, together with your doctor, about your treatment. Your treatment choices for ovarian cancer will depend on a number of factors including the stage of the disease that you are at, your age, your health and your cell type. When your cancer is first discovered, the doctor will do a biopsy to determine the stage of the cancer. The pathologist will look at the tissue to analyze the cancer. The gynecologic oncologist is then usually the one who recommends the treatment plan. You, as the patient, have the right to be completely comfortable with their recommendations and to understand everything that is occurring. Ask as many questions as you need to and get the answers that will make you as comfortable as possible. You should understand what your cancer stage is, what your prognosis is and what your treatment options include.
Treatment at Each Stage
At Stage I, you'll have an abdominal hysterectomy. This will both remove the ovaries and the fallopian tubes. If you are young and still hoping to have children, it may be possible to remove only one ovary and a fallopian tube, if only one has the cancer. If the cancer is a higher grade, you may also need to undergo chemotherapy. In Stage II, you'll receive a hysterectomy and will either undergo chemotherapy, or chemotherapy with radiation depending on what they see in the lymph nodes. During Stage III, you'll have a similar treatment as in Stage II. You may have to undergo additional surgery to remove additional cancer after the initial surgery. During Stage IV, the treatment involves surgery so that the doctors can remove as much of the cancer as possible. You will then also have combined chemotherapy and radiation.
When experiencing ovarian cancer, or any cancer for that matter, you need to take care of yourself. Eat as well as possible, stay active while you can and sleep as much as necessary. Try to keep the protein up in your diet and take many vitamin supplements. Discuss cancer treatment side effects with your doctor and try to be prepared for a difficult time ahead. Fighting cancer is not going to be easy. Hopefully, however, the end of the experience will leave you with a clean recovery and newfound strength.