How is chemotherapy used to treat ovarian cancer?

Chemotherapy is the use of drugs for the treatment of cancer. It is also known as a systematic treatment which means the drug slowly enters the bloodstream and reaches all the areas of the body. The treatment of chemotherapy is given to patients to kill the cancer cells after surgery. This is seen in cases where the cancer has metastasized and there is a need to shrink very large tumors. In most cases, there are various methods used in chemotherapy, one method is where the drug is given orally to the patient and the other method is where the drug is injected into the vein. Sometimes, chemotherapy can be given through a tube that is connected directly to the abdomen and this procedure is called intraperitoneal chemotherapy.

Adjuvant 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 chemo is given to patients before the surgery if they are not healthy enough, the first half is completed. Then the surgery is conducted and the second half of the chemo cycle is restarted.

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

Intraperitoneal chemotherapy

In this procedure, chemotherapy is given through a tube that is connected directly to the abdomen. The tube is placed usually during staging or debulking surgery but sometimes it is placed later. In this process, a catheter which is connected to a port is placed under the skin against a bony structure of the abdominal wall. A needle can be placed through the skin and into the port and chemo and drugs can be given through this method.

HIPEC (Hyperthermic Intraperitoneal Chemotherapy)

In this chemotherapy drug instilled in the abdominal cavity along with hot water. This is usually performed in the operation theater after the complete removal of the tumor. This is usually performed for one hour and there is a complete 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 too, like the catheter getting infected, and in this case, women have to shift to intravenous chemotherapy.

See more on treatment for ovarian cancer here

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