If you or your loved one has been diagnosed with ovarian or fallopian tube cancers - Peter Mac is here to help.
Ovarian and fallopian tube cancers happens in the ovaries or fallopian tubes of the female reproductive system. There are two ovaries, one on each side of the uterus, that produce eggs and female hormones. Each ovary is joined to the uterus by a fallopian tube. The egg produced monthly by one of your ovaries, travels through the fallopian tube to the uterus.
Ovarian cancer is a malignant (cancer) tumour in one or both ovaries. A common ovarian cancer is one that starts in the surface of the ovary, known as the epithelium. Sometimes ovarian cancer can start in the fallopian tube(s) and spread to the ovary.
There are many types of ovarian cancer and each one is named after the cell in which it starts.
The most common type of ovarian cancer is serous papillary. Other types include:
- clear cell
- mucinous carcinoma.
It is hard to notice the early signs of ovarian cancer. Some signs or symptoms of ovarian cancer can include:
- abdominal (belly, tummy) bloating or swelling
- weight loss
- lack of appetite
- quickly feeling full after eating
- change in periods (menstruation)
- bleeding between periods
- change in toileting such as constipation or diarrhoea
- often feel the need to urinate (pee).
These symptoms can also be due to other less serious conditions such as digestive (stomach) problems, constipation, ageing or an irritable bowel.
Only a doctor can tell if you have ovarian cancer. If you have any of these symptoms for more than two weeks, you should see your GP (local family doctor).
Your first tests for diagnosis
The early stages of ovarian cancer may go unnoticed.
To identify ovarian cancer, our experts will work with you and support you through a medical examination and other key tests such as:
- pelvic exam
- vaginal ultrasound (internal/inside)
- pathology (blood tests)
- imaging (scans and x-rays)
- scope (using a small camera to look inside)
We are dedicated to providing you with the best testing and treatment for ovarian cancer.
We will design and provide a diagnosis and treatment plan that best responds to your condition and individual needs.
To diagnose ovarian cancer we may:
- conduct an internal (inside) and external (outside) pelvic exam by palpitation (by touch)
- conduct a laparoscopy. This is a simple day procedure to see and examine the abdomen and pelvic area with a small magnifying instrument/camera.
- perform an internal ultrasound to view the area
- take x-rays, CT and PET scans and MRIs. This will be done to show the exact size and place of the cancer.
- blood tests for ovarian cancer cell signs also called markers
- blood tests to check for inherited family genes that may have been passed on
- perform a biopsy, which is a small sample of cells or piece of tissue from the affected area.
The results from these tests will also help us understand how developed your cancer is. If there is ovarian cancer, we will identify its stage. Staging is a way to describe or label how far the disease has spread and this will help guide your best treatment plan.
Focusing on you (treatment)
Your Peter Mac doctors will discuss and develop the best treatment plan for you. Treatments will depend on your diagnosis.
Ovarian cancer treatment will depend on:
- the type of disease it is
- whether it has spread and how far (its stage)
- your general health and wellbeing
- your needs.
We will develop the most effective treatment plan for your condition and needs. Your treatment team may recommend any of the following treatments as part of your plan:
- surgery to remove all or as much as possible of the tumour
- chemotherapy (anti-cancer drugs) to help shrink or destroy the cancer cells before or after surgery
- radiation therapy (strong and powerful beams of radiation/energy to kill and/or slow cancer cells) either before or after surgery or bothy
- External beam radiation therapy, directed and delivered from outside of the body
- Internal radiation therapy called brachytherapy, directed and delivered inside the body, up close to the cancer itself
- clinical trials or
- a combination of these.
Enhancing your care (after treatment)
After effective treatment, patients will continue to see their specialist every three months. These visits are used to monitor your health and may include tests such as pathology, imaging (scans and x-rays), ultrasounds and small biopsies. Your specialist will discuss the best follow-up plan for you.
Living with cancer
We know how hard cancer and treatment can be. Your lifestyle and that of your loved one's will be disrupted and changed. During this time, it is common to struggle with ongoing concerns about cancer and therapy. There are many expert groups available to support you through this time, including:
At Peter Mac, we focus on all aspects of your health and wellbeing. Our ovarian cancer experts will help support and guide you to the best information and managed care.
Our specialist nurses can refer you to our:
PATIENT AND CARER RESOURCES
For more information about ovarian cancers, their treatment and support for patients and families, download copies of the following resources: