Ovarian Cancer (cont.)
Chemotherapy uses anticancer drugs to kill cancer cells. Most women have
chemotherapy for ovarian cancer after surgery. Some women have chemotherapy
Usually, more than one drug is given. Drugs for ovarian cancer can be given
in different ways:
- By vein (IV): The drugs can be given through a thin tube inserted into a
- By vein and directly into the abdomen: Some women get IV chemotherapy along
with intraperitoneal (IP) chemotherapy. For IP chemotherapy, the drugs are given
through a thin tube inserted into the abdomen.
- By mouth: Some drugs for ovarian cancer can be given by mouth.
Chemotherapy is given in cycles. Each treatment period is followed by a rest
period. The length of the rest period and the number of cycles depend on the
anticancer drugs used.
You may have your treatment in a clinic, at the doctor's office, or at home.
Some women may need to stay in the hospital during treatment.
The side effects of chemotherapy depend mainly on which drugs are given and
how much. The drugs can harm normal cells that divide rapidly:
- Blood cells: These cells fight infection, help blood to clot, and carry
oxygen to all parts of your body. When drugs affect your blood cells, you are
more likely to get infections, bruise or bleed easily, and feel very weak and
tired. Your health care team checks you for low levels of blood cells. If blood
tests show low levels, your health care team can suggest medicines that can help
your body make new blood cells.
- Cells in hair roots: Some drugs can cause hair loss. Your hair will grow
back, but it may be somewhat different in color and texture.
- Cells that line the digestive tract: Some drugs can cause poor appetite,
nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, or mouth and lip sores. Ask your health care team
about medicines that help with these problems.
Some drugs used to treat ovarian cancer can cause hearing loss, kidney
damage, joint pain, and tingling or numbness in the hands or feet. Most of these
side effects usually go away after treatment ends.
You may find it helpful to read NCI's booklet Chemotherapy and You: A Guide
to Self-Help During Cancer Treatment.
|You may want to ask your doctor these questions about chemotherapy:
- When will treatment start? When will it end? How often will I have treatment?
- Which drug or drugs will I have?
- How do the drugs work?
- Do you recommend both IV and IP (intraperitoneal) chemotherapy for me? Why?
- What are the expected benefits of the treatment?
- What are the risks of the treatment? What side effects might I have?
- Can I prevent or treat any of these side effects? How?
- How much will it cost? Will my health insurance pay for all of the treatment?
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