Ovarian cancer is the fifth leading cause of cancer deaths in American women with over 20,000 new cases and approximately 15,000 deaths each year in the United States. It can be associated with pain or other symptoms. Most often it is not associated with symptoms and diagnosed only after it has spread to lymph nodes or other organs.
The ovary is responsible for production of hormones and eggs that are fertilized by sperm. Because the ovary is involved in such a complex set of bodily functions, many different types of cells make up the ovary. As a result, a variety of subtypes of ovarian cancer is possible. They include epithelial tumors, stromal tumors, and germ cells. Each subtype behaves differently, can cause different problems, and might require different treatment. Even within the same subtype, unique clinical and treatment factors can occur.
Treatment for ovarian cancer will vary depending on the type and the extent of spread. Typically, ovarian cancer requires surgery by a skilled gynecologic oncologist. The amount of residual visible cancer after the operation along with other factors will determine if additional treatment is needed and if so, what kind.
After surgical treatment, chemotherapy might be needed and typically consists of a combination of paclitaxel and carboplatin. Most often, chemotherapy can be delivered intravenously. In some cases, chemotherapy can be directly administered into the peritoneal cavity (abdomen and pelvis) using an indwelling catheter.
There are multiple studies that demonstrate the effectiveness of hyperthermia in patients who have ovarian cancer. Hyperthermia can be added to ovarian cancer treatment plan at any time. It is optimal to initiate hyperthermia treatment in combination with chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy. Improving your therapeutic regimen leads to the best outcome.
For all patients, the goal is to choose the right therapy or combination of therapies that leads to the best outcome while minimizing side effects. Adding hyperthermia can maximize the effectiveness of your therapeutic regimen without risking sensitive surrounding organs.
Hyperthermia often has no or minimal side effects and has no known adverse effects on normal tissue. This means organs such as the liver, small and large bowel, and bladder are not adversely affected by adding hyperthermia to your ovarian treatment plan.