Ovarian cancer is a malignant disease of the ovaries. Symptoms usually appear very late, so that the vast majority of women only come to the clinic at an advanced stage. Tumours form on the surface of one or both ovaries and extend from there into the abdomen. Between 7,000 and 8,000 women are newly diagnosed with ovarian cancer every year. Affected women are usually post-menopausal, with an average age of 69 years.
Symptoms appear very late and are rather vague. In the later stages, the abdominal girth often increases due to water retention, sometimes with simultaneous weight loss. Women complain of vague stomach/intestinal complaints, such as nausea, loss of appetite, flatulence or constipation, sometimes combined with a feeling of pressure in the abdomen. Many feel fatigued and exhausted and notice a drop in performance. Occasionally, non-specific pain may occur. Rarely, irregular menstrual bleeding or bleeding after menopause occurs. If metastases have already formed in the lymph nodes, they swell up. Ovarian cancer is often first diagnosed by swollen lymph nodes.
There is no screening test for ovarian cancer, for example, as there is for cervical cancer. In some cases, early detection is possible through a vaginal ultrasound examination, which patients have to pay for themselves as a so-called IGeL service. The suspicion of ovarian cancer is first confirmed by an internal and external physical examination and a vaginal ultrasound. A CT or MRI scan will show whether metastases have spread to the chest or abdomen. If necessary, a bladder and / or rectal endoscopy will also be performed to detect or exclude further metastases. Ovarian cancer is finally diagnosed by surgery and histological examination of the removed tissue
During the operation, it is important to remove as much of the tumour tissue as possible. For this reason, in addition to the ovaries, the fallopian tubes, the uterus, parts of the peritoneum and lymph nodes of the pelvic and abdominal cavity are also removed. If other organs are involved, such as the bladder or the intestine, we consult the appropriate specialists, including our colleagues in Abdominal Surgery. After the histological examination, the doctors involved discuss the further therapy in the tumour meeting. Systemic chemotherapy is almost always required because the risk of metastasis is high.
Special antibody drugs can additionally support chemotherapy by suppressing the formation of new blood vessels and slowing down the growth of the tumour.
During an inpatient stay at Havelhöhe, we combine conventional medical therapies with integrative treatments that help you to strengthen your self-healing powers, activate the immune system and mobilise your strengths. In ovarian cancer, mistletoe therapy in particular has proven to be effective. If the intestine is involved, we also recommend hyperthermia therapy, in which the cancer cells are made more sensitive to chemotherapy or radiotherapy by heating the body to around 40-45 degrees. The effectiveness of conventional therapies can often be enhanced by hyperthermia.
In many cases, integrative therapies can also significantly reduce the side effects of cancer therapy. These include movement and body therapies, e.g. eurythmy therapy and rhythmical massage therapy, as well as painting and music therapy. Additional support is provided by our anthroposophic care therapies, which promote regeneration.
You also have the option of taking advantage of psycho-oncological counselling. You can discuss possible fears there as well as the effects of the disease on your family situation or prospects for the time after treatment.
The prospects for successful treatment of ovarian cancer depend on the stage at which the tumour was diagnosed. If the tumour tissue can be completely removed during the operation, the risk of a new tumour is significantly reduced. However, since the disease is often only detected at a late stage, the chances of treatment are then poorer. There is a high risk of metastasis or recurrence after treatment has been completed. If the ovarian cancer is far advanced, we try to delay further spread of the tumour and maintain the patient's quality of life for as long as possible by using a combination of conventional and integrative methods.
In order to be able to detect and treat a possible recurrence or metastases at an early stage, regular follow-up is important. Examinations take place every three months for the first three years, every six months for the following two years and annually thereafter. Your gynaecologist will ask you about possible symptoms and abnormalities and, in addition to a physical examination and vaginal ultrasound, may carry out further examinations, such as the detection of tumour markers in the blood. Follow-up also aims to further improve patients' quality of life through access to psychological or medical services. If necessary, your doctor can refer you to psychological counselling services.
Before discharge from the Havelhöhe Community Hospital, you will receive an Aftercare Passport, in which all therapies and check-ups can be clearly noted.
We also ask you to report to our Aftercare Outpatient Clinic at regular intervals so that we can document the progress of your treatment.
Rehabilitation (rehab) usually follows the completed therapy - e.g. after chemotherapy. The teams of doctors, physiotherapists, psychologists and social services are at your disposal to facilitate your return to everyday life. In certain cases, the application for rehabilitation can already be made during the inpatient stay. The social services team at our facility will be happy to help you with this and will also discuss further options with you, e.g. applications for severe disability, aids, etc.
DEALING WITH FATIGUE (CANCER-RELATED FATIGUE, CRF)
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