Treatment of ovarian cancer

Apr 15, 2012 , Jana Nersisjanová

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The treatment of ovarian cancer is dependent on the specific type of the tumor and its stage when the tumor is discovered. Benign tumors called cysts are more common and less dangerous compared to malignant tumors, which are mainly found in the late stages and their treatment is already very limited. The treatment of ovarian cancer most commonly includes surgery or chemotherapy. It is also important to undergo periodic controls after the treatment to exclude the return of the tumor.

Treatment of ovarian cancer

Ovarian tumors are a very dangerous condition because of their location and because they are in the early stages asymptomatic. Unfortunately, patients often come to the hospital with symptoms corresponding to advanced stages of the disease. The sooner the ovarian tumor is found and treated, the better the chances for recovery. The treatment of ovarian tumors in most cases is their surgical removal.

Ovaries

The ovaries are a pair female gonad. They are two units, of a similar shape and size as a plum, which are located in the pelvis on both sides of the uterus. Their role is to produce eggs and female sex hormones. Eggs are actually gametes and once a month one egg matures and is released and captured by the fallopian tube. In that phase if it merges with a male gamete, sperm, an embryo is formed, which attaches to the uterus and the woman is now pregnant. Hormones, estrogen and progesterone, have different effects in a women's body, but they especially control the menstrual and ovulation cycle.

Types of ovarian tumors

Ovarian tumors can be just like on other organs malignant and benign. Benign ovarian tumors grow slowly, do not invade surrounding tissues and organs, and generally have a better prognosis. Malignant ovarian tumors grow quickly, are more aggressive, grow into surrounding organs and their treatment is very difficult. More common are benign tumors, which include the so-called cysts, which are cavities of various sizes filled with fluid. Ovarian tumors may occur at any age, but most commonly occur in women between 50 and 70 years. Since the ovary is composed of 3 different tissues therefore the tumors arising from them can also be of three types with several subtypes, which is the basis for the classification of tumors. The growth of ovarian tumors in the pelvis is not limited and therefore tumors may be present for a long time without any symptoms. This is a very negative aspect, because many of these tumors are discovered at a late stage and treatment is not so effective anymore. Early stages of an ovarian tumor are discovered rather accidentally.

Methods of ovarian tumor treatment

The treatment of ovarian tumors depends on whether the tumor is malignant or benign.

Treatment of benign ovarian tumors

Benign tumors grow only on the ovary and do not invade other organs, so it is easier to remove them surgically. Nowadays the surgery is usually performed laparoscopically. Laparoscopy is a procedure in which the doctor makes a few small holes in the abdomen. Through them are placed needed tools, a light source and a camera attached to a television screen on which the doctor monitors the intervention.

Treatment of malignant ovarian tumors

Malignant tumors are a serious disease, treatment in the individual cases varies depending on the type of the tumor, the degree of disability and the overall condition of the patient, but in principle, the procedure is in all cases very similar. The basis is surgical treatment that is combined with chemotherapy. In rare cases when the tumor is discovered in an early stage, surgical removal of the tumor is sufficient. Surgical treatment has to be radical, involving removal of the ovaries and fallopian tubes on both sides, the uterus, appendix and involved lymph nodes. In cases where the woman wants to become pregnant and the tumor is not too advanced, it is possible to leave the uterus and the unaffected ovary with the fallopian tube. During surgery also the whole pelvis and abdomen are examined and assessed whether and how far the tumor spread. After evaluation of the degree of proficiency and laboratory microscopy confirms the type of the tumor chemotherapy comes next. Antineoplastic drugs are administrated, the drugs destroy cancer cells. It is because during surgery usually not all tumor tissue is removed and the remaining tumor cells, even if only microscopically visible, can divide again. Chemotherapy is delivered intravenously for a few months in 3-4 week intervals, in an outpatient or inpatient basis. Chemotherapy has serious side effects. Patients feel tired, weak, and nauseous; they encounter vomiting, loss of appetite, hair loss and an increased susceptibility to infections.

Treatment of ovarian cancer and regular monitoring

After treatment of ovarian cancer regular monitoring is necessary that there is no relapse. This means that the patient comes in every few months to the clinic for gynecological examination, ultrasonography of the pelvis and blood samples are analyzed for increased markers, signaling the return of the disease. In cases of suspected tumor recurrence further examination is performed.

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