Post-Diagnosis: What to Do If You Have Ovarian Cancer
Individuals who have ovarian cancer have tumors in their ovaries. Ovarian cancer can refer to the presence of malignant epithelial tumors, germ cell tumors, or stromal tumors. The type of tumor is determined by what cells the tumor grew from. Carcinomas, which are malignant epithelial tumors, are responsible for 85-90% of malignant ovarian tumors. 21,000 Americans are diagnosed with ovarian cancer each year, and it is one of the five primary types of cancer that affect the female reproductive system. Once you have been diagnosed with ovarian cancer, there are several important steps you may need to take.
Assess Your Prognosis
When you are diagnosed with ovarian cancer, you will be given a grade, a type of ovarian cancer, and a stage. The tumors can be grade one, grade two, or grade three. Grade one tumors are the least serious and grade three tumors are the most serious. The tumor grade is determined by whether or not the tumors look similar to normal tissue.
A tumor’s type refers to its growth rate. Type one tumors do not grow as quickly as type two tumors. Type one tumors may be harder to diagnose because they produce fewer symptoms. Type two tumors are more likely to be successfully treated by chemotherapy.
Your stage depends on the spread of your cancer. Stage I is the best prognosis. At stage I, your cancer is contained to the ovaries. If the cancer has spread beyond your reproductive system, you have stage IV cancer. This is the most serious stage of ovarian cancer.
Once you have been diagnosed, you should see a gynecological oncologist. A gynecological oncologist is qualified to provide the two primary types of cancer treatments used for ovarian cancer. You may be eligible for surgery if tests indicate that it may be possible to remove the tumors. Your treatment may begin with chemotherapy to reduce the size of the tumors before surgery.
There are also groundbreaking clinical trials that follow Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations, which ensure the safety of the participants. Clinical trials are used to discover new medications that can effectively treat all types of diseases, including ovarian cancer. Clinical trials are sponsored by pharmaceutical companies, which pay for the cost of the treatment. Targeted therapy is one example of treatment that may be available through a clinical trial.
Finance Your Treatment
Your health insurance may not cover the type of treatment that you need. Studies have shown that inadequate health insurance prevents women from receiving surgery, which has been proven to extend the lifespan of all patients with ovarian cancer. If you need ovarian cancer financial assistance you can opt to pursue a viatical settlement. This means that you sell your life insurance policy. The funds you receive can be used to cover the costs of treatment or care following surgery.
There are a number of organizations that may also be able to provide financial assistance. The American Life Fund provides financial support directly to patients. Patient Advocate Foundation (PAF) may provide services patients need. The Ovarian Cancer Research Fund Alliance (OCRFA) finances clinical trials. Other organizations may assist with health care costs and secondary costs, such as the cost of in-home assistance.
Prepare for Your Needs
Chemotherapy can cause fatigue. You may be nauseous and lose your appetite. Individuals receiving chemotherapy are also susceptible to infection and injury. Following surgery, you may need several weeks to regain your strength. You may also be experiencing pain that affects your ability to perform routine tasks.
It is important to be realistic about your potential limitations during and after your treatment. You may have family members who can look after some of your personal care needs or you may need to hire someone to cook and clean. You may also need someone to ensure you receive medications and transport you to medical appointments during and after your treatment.