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Chemotherapy for Ovarian Cancer

Chemotherapy for Ovarian Cancer

Chemotherapy is the use of pharmaceutical drugs to treat cancer. Chemo is most frequently a systemic treatment, meaning the medications penetrate the bloodstream and touch almost all parts of the body. Chemo can be useful for killing very small quantities of cancer cells that may still be needed after surgery, for cancers that have metastasized (spread), or for shrinking very large tumours to facilitate Surgery. Chemo most commonly uses medications that are either injected into a vein (IV) or delivered by mouth. Chemotherapy can also, in some cases, be administered directly into the abdominal cavity through a catheter (thin tube). It is called Chemotherapy intraperitoneal (IP).

Chemotherapy for epithelial ovarian cancer

Ovarian cancerChemotherapytypically requires bringing together two different types of medications. For a first treatment for ovarian cancer, using a combination of medications instead of just one medication alone appears to be working well. The combination usually includes a type ofChemotherapycalled a platinum compound (usually cisplatin or carboplatin), and another type ofChemotherapycalled a taxane, such as paclitaxel or docetaxel. These medications are normally administered as IV (inserted into a vein) every 3 to 4 weeks. The standard chemo course for epithelialOvarian Cancerrequires 3 to 6 treatment cycles, depending on the stage and form of cancer in the ovary. A cycle is a series of daily doses of a drug followed by a time of rest. EpithelialOvarian Cancersometimes shrinks, or even appears to go away with chemo, but eventually the cancer cells can start to develop again. When the first chemo appeared to work well and the cancer remained away for at least 6 to 12 months, then the first time it should be treated with the sameChemotherapy. In some cases different medications can be used. Some of the other chemo drugs that are helpful in treatingOvarian Cancerinclude:

Intraperitoneal (IP) chemotherapy

For women with stage IIIOvarian Cancer(cancer that has not spread beyond the abdomen) and whose cancers have been optimally debulked (no tumors greater than 1 cm after surgery), intraperitoneal (IP)Chemotherapymay be offered in addition to systemicChemotherapy(paclitaxel administered in a vein). In IP chemotherapy, the cisplatin and paclitaxel drugs are injected through a catheter (thin tube) into the abdominal cavity. During the staging / debulking surgery, the tube may be placed but it is sometimes placed later. If done later, it may be put underX-Raysupervision by a surgeon using laparoscopy, or by an interventional radiologist. The catheter is normally attached to a tube, a half-dollar disk surmounted by a pliable diaphragm. The port, like a rib or pelvic bone, is placed under the skin against a bony surface of the abdominal wall. To offer chemo and other medicines, a needle may be inserted through the skin and into the harbour. Problems with the catheter may occur over time (for example, it might become plugged or infected), but this is rare. Giving chemo this way directly to the cancer cells in the abdominal cavity provides the most intense dose of the medications. This chemo is also absorbed into the bloodstream, and can enter cancer cells beyond the cavity of the abdomen. IPChemotherapytends to help some people live longer than intravenousChemotherapyalone, but the side effects are also greater. People who undergo IPChemotherapymay experience more stomachPain,Nausea, vomiting, and other side effects which may lead some people to avoid early care. The risk of side effects also means that a woman must have normal kidney function before beginning an IP chemo and be in good overall heath. Women also cannot have a lot of adhesions or scar tissue inside their abdomen (belly), because this can prevent the chemo from reaching all the cancer cells that are exposed to it.

Side effects of chemotherapy

Chemotherapies can cause side effects. These depend on the type and dose of drugs given, and the treatment length. Some of the commonest side effects imaginable include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Loss of hair
  • Hand and foot rashes
  • Mouth sores

These side effects usually go away after treatment is finished. While you are in treatment, tell your cancer care team about any side effects you are having. There are often ways to lessen these side effects.  

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