Chemotherapy for ovarian cancer | Adjuvant and neoadjuvant

Chemotherapy in the treatment of ovarian cancer

Chemotherapy is the use of drugs for the treatment of cancer. Also called systematic treatment, the drug slowly enters the bloodstream and reaches all the areas of the body. The treatment of chemotherapy aims to kill the cancer cells after surgery. In cases where cancer has metastasized, there is a need to shrink enormous tumors. There are various approaches to the administration of chemotherapy. One approach is where the administration of the drug is oral, and the other way is where the drug courses through the vein. Furthermore, in intraperitoneal chemotherapy, medical oncologists administer chemotherapy through a tube directly to the abdomen.

Photograph of a patient receiving chemotherapyAdjuvant and neoadjuvant chemotherapy

Chemotherapy for ovarian cancer is a treatment that is usually given after surgery to kill the remaining cancer cells that are not visible to the naked eye. Sometimes chemotherapy goes before the surgery and if they are not healthy enough, doctors recommend only half the treatment. After surgery, and the second half of the chemotherapy cycle resumes.

Chemotherapy for ovarian cancer usually involves the use of two different drugs together. Using a combination of drugs works better in the first treatment of ovarian cancer. The mix includes a drug that has a platinum compound and another type of chemo drug called taxane. These drugs are are administered through the vein every three to four weeks.

Intraperitoneal chemotherapy

In this procedure, doctors administer chemotherapy through a tube directly to the abdomen. The tube is placed usually during staging or debulking surgery, but sometimes it is set later. In this procedure, a catheter linked to a port is under the skin against the bony structure of the abdominal wall. A needle goes through the skin and into the port. Also, doctors prefer administering chemotherapy and drugs through this method.

HIPEC (Hyperthermic Intraperitoneal Chemotherapy)

In this chemotherapy drug instilled in the abdominal cavity along with hot water. HIPEC happens in the operation theater after the complete removal of the tumor. Usually performed for one hour, there is a full circulation of the drug with the help of a HIPEC machine.

Studies have shown that women who have received a combination of intraperitoneal chemotherapy, as well as intravenous chemotherapy, lived 16 months longer. However, intraperitoneal chemo has its drawbacks. There is a danger of infection in the case of the catheter, and women have to shift to intravenous chemotherapy.

See more on treatment for ovarian cancer here.

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