Ovarian Cancer- Diagnosis and Treatment

Here we will discuss the elaborate methods of diagnosis of ovarian cancer and also ovarian cancer treatment options. To know the causes, signs, symptoms, stages and other information about ovarian cancer, read Ovarian Cancer FAQ

Ovarian cancer is historically called ‘silent killer’. The reason for its being silent killer is that the signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer do not show up in its early stages. Even the diagnosis generally occurs at an advanced stage of the disease. For diagnosis too, surgery is the only reliable means to establish whether a woman suffers from ovarian cancer or not! As far as treatment of ovarian cancer is concerned, it is also done through surgery at all its stages along with some other cancer specific therapies. 

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Diagnosis of Ovarian Cancer

Due to involvement of genetic factors in causing ovarian cancer, personal and family medical history is the first thing which is evaluated by gynecological oncologist to detect ovarian cancer. Many other medical investigations and examinations are also needed to diagnose ovarian cancer.

Pelvic examination

For this, doctor needs to inspect the external parts of the genitals. Doctor also needs to see and feel the uterus and ovaries through medical procedures including insertion of device like speculum or even a gloved hand into vagina and pressing the abdomen.

Ultrasound

Through an ultrasound test, doctor may want to know about the size, shape and configuration of the abnormal growths inside the ovary. A transvaginal ultrasound may also be done by inserting an ultrasound probe into the vagina.

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CA 125 Blood Test

Cancer Antigen 125 or Carbohydrate Antigen 125 (CA 125) is a protein found on the surface of ovarian cancer cells and also in some healthy tissues. Mostly, women with ovarian cancer have abnormally high levels of CA 125 in blood. However, many women with early stages of ovarian cancer may have normal levels of CA 125. Also, many conditions other than ovarian cancer can lead to high CA 125 levels. Therefore, CA 125 blood test is usually not used for screening or diagnosing ovarian cancer but to monitor the response to the treatment of ovarian cancer.

Surgery

If the above tests and examinations indicate towards the possibility of ovarian cancer, surgery is the only way to confirm the diagnosis of ovarian cancer. During the surgery, the surgeon may collect samples of abdominal fluid and remove an ovary for pathological examination. If cancer is discovered, the surgeon generally immediately begins the surgery to remove as much of the cancer as is possible.

Ovarian Cancer Treatment

Surgery may be the only treatment for early stage cancer. For advanced stages of ovarian cancer, treatment options may include surgery along with chemotherapy and targeted therapy.

Ovarian Cancer Treatment with Surgery

The surgery done for treating ovarian cancer involves the following:
• Total Hysterectomy- Removal of the uterus.
• Bilateral Salpin-go-oophorectomy- Removal of both the ovaries and fallopian tube.
• Partial or complete removal of omentum. Omentum is the fatty layer apron which covers as well as guards the abdominal viscera.
• Biopsy or removal of the pelvic and aortic lymph nodes. These are affected especially in the advanced stages of ovarian cancer.
• Excision of all or most of the cancerous deposits within the abdomen and pelvis region. Effort is done to remove as much cancer as is possible without compromising safety.

Ovarian Cancer Treatment with Chemotherapy

ovarian-cancer-diagnosis-treatmentAfter surgery, Chemotherapy is suggested for ovarian cancer treatment, mostly in the advanced stage. Chemotherapy can also be done in earlier stages of ovarian cancer if the disease is high grade. Chemotherapy may also be done for ovarian cancer that has come back (or recurred) after the first treatment.

During chemotherapy, anti-cancer drugs are administered to kill cancer cells. These drugs are generally given through a drip into a vein. Sometimes tablets and capsules are also given. At times, it may also be given straight into the abdomen which is known as intraperitoneal chemotherapy.

It is highly important for ovarian cancer patients to follow proper chemotherapy schedule. Avoiding requisite timing of chemotherapy or missing dosage of chemotherapy drugs may lead to cancer becoming resistant to further treatment.

Ovarian Cancer Treatment with Targeted Therapy

Targeted therapy is comparatively a new treatment for advanced ovarian cancer which is given with chemotherapy. In it, the cancer cells are made to starve. A drug is given to the ovarian cancer patient which inhibits the growth of abnormal blood vessels that provide nourishment to the cancer cells. Thus, this drug targets and inhibits the growth of cancer cells responsible for ovarian cancer in women.

You might also like to know about the Treatment Options for Breast Cancer

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