For most all ovarian cancer diagnoses, the initial treatment will be a surgical procedure which removes and stages the cancer, as well as debulking treatment in some cases. Following surgery and debulking, the treatment depends on the stage of the epithelial ovarian cancer.
- Stage one ovarian cancer will include tumor-removing surgery, during which the uterus, both fallopian tubes and both ovaries are removed, in most cases. More specifically:
- Stages IA and IB includes cancer found inside either one or both ovaries which has not spread to other organs or lymph nodes. Treatment following surgery will depend on how the cancer is graded. If the ovarian cancer tumor is graded as a 1, then the woman’s outlook is considered good, and no treatment other than surgery is required. If, however, a woman with this level of cancer wants to maintain her fertility, only the ovary with the cancerous cells and the fallopian tube on the same side may be removed. If the cancer is considered a grade 2, the patient may either be watched closely following the surgery to remove the cancer, or could possibly undergo 3-6 cycles of chemotherapy. A grade 3 ovarian cancer will generally include surgery then chemotherapy.
- Stage IC ovarian cancer will usually include surgery and 3-6 cycles of chemotherapy.
- Stage two ovarian cancer treatment will almost always begin with staging and debulking surgery, including a hysterectomy, and removal of the maximum amount of the tumor possible. Following surgery for the stage two ovarian cancer, at least six cycles of chemotherapy are generally recommended.
- Stage three ovarian cancer treatments are similar as stage two cancers, with the addition of removal of the omentum—the fatty tissues from the upper abdomen, near the intestines and stomach being removed. If no tumor larger than 1 cm. is left behind, the ovarian cancer is considered to be optimally debulked. If the ovarian cancer has spread to the intestines, bladder or liver, then as much of the cancer as possible will be removed. The patient will then undergo chemotherapy for at least six cycles. In some instances, intra-abdominal chemotherapy may be administered. While intra-abdominal chemotherapy appears to work better as far as destroying the cancerous cells, the side effects are usually worse than with IV chemotherapy, making it difficult for many women to continue the treatment. Following surgery and chemotherapy, the doctor will perform blood tests to determine whether the levels of CA-125 are within the normal range. Among patients who may be too ill, or too weak to have their ovarian tumor staged and debulked, chemotherapy may be the first treatment offered. If the chemotherapy is successful and the patient becomes strong enough to undergo surgery and debulking, then that treatment will be performed next.
- Surgery known as “second look surgery” may be performed in order to determine whether the chemotherapy has completely killed the cancer. Since these operations have not really shown significant benefit, they are rarely performed any more, but may be done as a part of a clinical trial to determine how effective the trial’s new treatment has been. A second look surgery is done via a small opening below the naval. A slender tube with a light is placed inside the opening, allowing the surgeon to inspect the abdominal cavity to determine whether the treatment was successful.
- Maintenance or consolidation therapy may be recommended following the initial treatment in order to kill cancer cells which could have been left behind through a treatment of chemotherapy—often done every four weeks for a year. While this maintenance treatment appears to lengthen the time before the cancer returns, it does not appear to help the woman receiving the treatment live longer.
- Stage IV ovarian cancer treatment is for cancerous cells which have spread to more distant sites in the body such as the bones, the liver or lungs. A stage IV cancer cannot be cured, but can be treated, with a goal of helping the woman live longer, and possibly feel better. Stage IV ovarian cancer is generally treated the same as stage III—a surgical procedure to remove and debulk the tumor, followed by chemotherapy. In some cases chemotherapy may be administered first, in order to shrink the tumor, followed by surgery and more chemotherapy.
- Recurrent ovarian cancer continues to come back following surgery and chemotherapy, while persistent ovarian cancer refers to tumors which were never completely eradicated during treatment. Additional surgery and/or chemotherapy may be recommended. The longer it takes for the ovarian cancer to recur following treatment, the higher the likelihood the chemotherapy will work. When the cancer returns in less than six months, the doctor may try different chemotherapy drugs. Clinical trials might be an option for women with persistent or recurrent ovarian cancer, or, in some cases, high-dose chemotherapy with stem cell rescue could be used. This treatment has extremely serious side effects, and has not been found to help a woman live longer.
- Palliative treatments can be used among women with ovarian cancer who are experiencing a fluid buildup in the abdomen. A treatment known as paracentesis is used to withdraw several quarts of fluid from the abdominal area—a treatment which is extremely uncomfortable for the woman. Chemotherapy may also be injected directly into the abdomen to slow the fluid buildup. While such treatments may relieve certain symptoms, they rarely, if ever, extend a woman’s life. In the event of a intestinal blockage resulting from the ovarian cancer, a stent may be placed into the large intestine to relieve the blockage, however this procedure has a high risk of additional complications.
The Talcum Powder Ovarian Cancer Dilemma: Are You at Risk from Baby Powder with Talc?
Baby powder ovarian cancer has become a focus over the past few months, both for women, and for Johnson & Johnson. The three talcum powder ovarian cancer lawsuits decided since 2013, have all found against Johnson & Johnson, and in favor of the plaintiffs. The issue at hand is whether the use of talcum powder (talc is found in both baby powder with talc and in “Shower to Shower”) for feminine hygiene can lead to ovarian cancer. Several studies over the past three decades have found a definite link, some placing the increased risk of ovarian cancer among women using talcum powder for feminine hygiene as high as 30-40 percent.
There are currently as many as 1,200 talcum powder ovarian cancer lawsuits filed against Johnson & Johnson across the nation. While some believe J & J may settle those lawsuits, after losing the first three, J & J continues to maintain talcum powder is safe, therefore no warnings were required. Many women now have questions regarding ovarian cancer, and whether their use of talcum powder for feminine hygiene could potentially increase their risks of this deadly cancer.
Should I contact an Attorney if I used Talcum Powder and was then diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer?
If you have been diagnosed with ovarian cancer and you used talcum powder for feminine hygiene, it could be beneficial to speak to an experienced talcum powder ovarian cancer attorney. Obtaining knowledgeable talcum powder ovarian cancer legal help early on can help to ensure your rights are fully protected throughout the process. You may be entitled to remuneration for your injuries.