What is Ovarian cancer?
The ovarian, fallopian tube and peritoneal malignancies are collectively “ovarian cancer”. The malignancies have similar treatment because they are closely related to one another.
Certain cancers start when healthy cells in these regions transform. They proliferate out of control to produce a mass known as a tumor. A tumor may be benign or malignant. Malignant refers to the ability of a cancerous tumor to develop and metastasize to different body regions. If a tumor is benign, it can enlarge but won’t spread.
An abnormal growth of tissue on the surface of the ovary is an ovarian cyst. It can happen during a typical menstrual cycle and typically goes away on its own. Cancer is not present in simple ovarian cysts.
According to recent studies, high-grade serous cancers account for the majority of ovarian/fallopian tube cancers. And in most cases, the disease really begins at the tip, or outer end, of the fallopian tubes. It then spreads to the ovaries’ surface and has the potential to expand further.
Suggestions based on recent research
Given this new information, several medical professionals advise against tying or banding fallopian tubes for contraception. This is in order to reduce the risk of ovarian/fallopian tube cancer. When a patient is having surgery for a benign ailment and does not wish to become pregnant in the future, some doctors advise fallopian tube removal. This approach might lessen the likelihood that these malignancies would spread in the future.
Under a microscope, the majority of these illnesses resemble one another. This is because all the uterine cells have the same sorts of cells. Rarely, peritoneal cancer can appear after the removal of the ovaries and fallopian tubes. Some peritoneal malignancies, like ovarian cancer, can start in the fallopian tubes. They can then progress from the tube’s end into the peritoneal cavity.
After active treatment ends, care for those with a cancer diagnosis continues. Your medical team will keep an eye out for any side effects. They will help you manage any cancer recurrence and evaluate your general health too. The term for this is follow-up care.
Regular physical exams, diagnostic procedures, or both may be part of your follow-up care for ovarian/fallopian tube cancer. In the coming months and years, doctors want to monitor your progress.
Despite the lack of precise recommendations, medical professionals advise a pelvic check every two to four months for the first four years. They advise this following treatment and then every six months for the next three years. Other examinations for any of the three tumours could consist of X-rays, CT scans, MRI scans, ultrasound investigations, and blood tests like the CA-125 test.
When some types of ovarian/fallopian tube cancer undergo treatment, patients may experience an increased risk of breast cancer, colon cancer, or Lynch syndrome.
Any new issue, such as pain, weight loss or appetite loss, changes in your menstrual cycle, unusual vaginal bleeding, urinary issues, blurred vision, dizziness, coughing, hoarseness, headaches, backaches, or abdominal pain, bloating, difficulty eating, or unusual or persistent digestive issues, should be of discussion with your doctor. These symptoms could indicate that the cancer has returned, or they could indicate something else.
A wide range of therapies, including physical therapy, occupational therapy, career counselling, pain management, nutritional guidance, and/or emotional counselling, may be prescribed as part of cancer rehabilitation following treatment. Rehabilitation is to aid individuals in regaining control over a variety of aspects of their lives and maintaining as much independence as possible.
Watching for recurrence
Checking for a recurrence, which indicates that the cancer has returned, is one purpose of follow-up care. Small pockets of cancer cells in the body may go undiagnosed, leading to cancer recurrence. These cells may multiply over time to the point where they appear on test results or produce symptoms. A physician who is knowledgeable about your medical history can provide you with personalised information regarding your risk of recurrence during follow-up care. Your doctor will inquire about your health in detail. As part of routine follow-up care, some patients could have imaging or blood tests, but the best course of action depends on a number of variables, including the type and stage of cancer that was initially identified, as well as the type of treatment used.
You or a family member may feel stressed out as you wait for test results or anticipate having a follow-up examination. This is also referred to as “scanxiety.”
Managing long-term and late side effects
When receiving therapy, most patients anticipate experiencing adverse effects. However, it frequently comes as a surprise to survivors that some adverse effects may persist after the course of treatment. We refer to these as long-term adverse effects. After treatment has been completed, late effects, or additional side effects, may appear months or even years later. Physical and emotional changes can result in long-term and late repercussions.
Based on your diagnosis, your unique treatment plan, and your general health, discuss with your doctor how likely it is that you will experience these side effects. You might undergo specific physical exams, scans, or blood tests to assist discover and manage late effects if your treatment was known to have them.
Keeping track of your personal health records
Together, your doctor and you should create a specific follow-up care strategy. Any worries you may have regarding your potential physical or mental health should be brought up.
A good opportunity to discuss who will oversee your follow-up care is now with your doctor. Some cancer survivors visit their oncologist on a regular basis, while others switch back to their primary care physician or another healthcare provider. The type and stage of cancer, any side effects, the insurance company’s policies, and your personal preferences all play a role in this choice.
Share your cancer treatment summary and survivorship care plan forms with them and all upcoming healthcare providers if a physician who was not directly involved in your cancer care will oversee your follow-up care. The medical personnel who will look after you for the rest of your life will find information regarding your cancer treatment to be very helpful.