After an ovarian cancer diagnosis, there are a lot of decisions to make and medical professionals to talk to about how to proceed with treatment. It’s only normal that you’d be full of emotions and questions. To help you prepare for what’s ahead in your ovarian cancer journey, we’ve tried to address some of the most commonly asked questions from new patients.
Ovarian cancer is a type of gynecologic cancer usually treated by gynecologic oncologists. A gynecologic oncologist is a highly specialized expert in cancers of a woman’s reproductive organs. These specialists recommend a course for treatment, oversee the entire cancer care plan, and in many cases, also perform surgery to remove the cancer as they are up-to-date on advanced surgical techniques.
Ovarian cancer stages are typically expressed as a number on a scale of I through IV (1 -4) — with stage I representing cancer that's contained in the ovaries and stage IV representing cancers that have spread to other areas of the body. The results of the biopsy and the images taken will allow your oncologist to determine the extent of your ovarian cancer.
For nearly all ovarian cancer patients, surgery is included to remove the ovaries and possibly other nearby organs where cancer has grown. Other treatments are used to be sure all cancer cells have been eliminated.
Several different types of medical oncology treatments are used for ovarian cancer, including chemotherapy, targeted therapy, and immunotherapy. Radiation therapy may also be used.
While surgery may seem like the logical first step, some women can benefit from a different approach that starts with other treatments. This approach, called neoadjuvant therapy, is used to shrink the amount of cancer that needs to be removed surgically. We strive to find the least invasive surgical approach that will also ensure that the cancer has been removed.
The cancer specialists at Compass Oncology participate in ovarian cancer research as part of the process that brings new ovarian cancer treatments to patients in the Portland-Vancouver area and eventually across the entire country. While research trials are available at all of our locations throughout the Portland-Vancouver area, there are specific criteria that need to be met for participation. Talk to your gynecologic oncologist about whether there is a trial available to you.
At your first oncology appointment, you’ll receive a lot of information in a short period of time. Here are some useful tips on how you can remember what you're told and keep track of questions you'd like to ask your ovarian cancer specialist.
To stay organized, we suggest getting a notebook to keep a record of important information. This can include information such as how you’re feeling and what medicines or supplements you’re taking to any questions, thoughts, or observations you have regarding appointments and procedures. Try to put a date on everything you log down.
If a method other than paper works better for you, such as the notes feature on your smartphone, then commit to using it regularly. Having information written down (and on hand) can help keep the lines of communication open between you and your doctors.
Following ovarian cancer treatment, your doctors will want to monitor you closely. It’s very important to go to all of your follow-up appointments. These visits give your cancer care team an opportunity to address your questions and concerns, look for treatment-related side effects, and discuss other follow-up treatments that may be necessary. Our team at Compass Oncology is dedicated to not only helping patients during their treatment journey but providing gynecologic cancer support beyond treatment.
Feeling confident about your ovarian cancer diagnosis and treatment plan is extremely important, which is why many patients choose to get a second opinion before beginning a specific treatment plan. At Compass Oncology, our physicians provide many second opinions on ovarian cancer and the best treatment plan. Many insurance companies will cover a second opinion assessment, but it is still a good idea to contact your insurance provider for verification of coverage before booking the appointment.
Watch the video below to learn about the importance of a second opinion for cancer diagnosis and treatment. The oncologists at Compass Oncology are available to discuss your test results, cancer diagnosis, and options for treatment.
5050 NE Hoyt St., Suite 256, Portland, OR 97213 Near Providence Hospital