Once ovarian cancer has been diagnosed, the next stage is for a Gynecologic Oncologist (a specialist doctor in gynecology) to recommend a suitable treatment plan. However, any such plan will depend largely on the type of cancer the patient has been diagnosed with (Epithelial Ovarian Cancer [EOC], Borderline Ovarian Cancer, Germ Cell Ovarian Cancer, or Stromal Ovarian Cancer), the stage (extent or severity) the cancer is at, together with other important circumstantial factors relating to the patient.
Staging for Ovarian Cancer
Stage I (a, b, & c) – Cancer is limited to one or both ovaries.
Stage II (a, b, & c) – Cancer has metastasized (spread) to the pelvis.
Stage III (a, b, & c) – Cancer has metastasized from the pelvis but is limited to the abdomen or lymph nodes (not including the inside of the liver).
Stage IV – Cancer has metastasized to the liver and outside of the abdomen.
(stages I – III [a & b] are usually surgically diagnosed, whereas late stage III [c] and stage IV are usually proven at biopsy).
Typical treatments may include: chemotherapy, radiation therapy, surgery (including radical), and clinical drug trials, etc.
Quality of life
Early diagnosis of ovarian cancer usually tends to get overlooked, as subtle but significant signs or symptoms cause little concern to begin with. Typical signs and symptoms may include: abdominal bloating, bowel changes, early satiety [sensation of feeling full], fatigue, leg swelling, and shortness of breath, etc. However, what was first of little concern, can suddenly become a major problem as the cancer progresses. The aches and pains, not just begin to become more noticeable, but also more difficult to live with.
Chemotherapy treatment may also begin to take its toll on a patient. As the cancer becomes worse, more of chemotherapy’s powerful cocktail of drugs will be needed, resulting in a detrimental effect on the general well-being of the patient. Side-effects may include: body distortion, edema (swelling from excessive accumulation of fluid in the tissue), hair-loss, constant fatigue, incontinence (bladder and bowel), neutropenia (an abnormal decrease in the number of neutrophils [a type of white blood cell], poor sleep, sexual dysfunction, and weight-loss).
The cancer can also bring other additional burdens too, for example: it is not just the amount of time a patient receives treatment for, but also the potential loss of time from family and work. With chemotherapy treatments, the sudden change in health (for the worse), mobility issues, psychological and emotional issues, social and financial problems, and sexual issues, all help to contribute to a diminished HRQOL (Health-Related Quality of Life).
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