Consider all treatment options for ovarian cancer, including clinical trials

May 20 8:00am | Jennifer O'Hara | @jenohara | Comments (4)

Ovarian cancer is the fifth-leading cause of cancer death among women in the U.S. When ovarian cancer first develops, it might not cause noticeable symptoms. It often goes undetected until it has spread within the pelvis and abdomen.

"Unfortunately, ovarian cancer often presents with very common symptoms, and these common symptoms are things that everybody will complain about at some point," explains Dr. John Weroha, a Mayo Clinic medical oncologist. "For example, constipation, bloating, maybe a little weight gain. These are very common symptoms, and oftentimes, people just kind of blow it off as being normal. So, that's how it hides and grows."

Once ovarian cancer is detected, treatment depends on the stage when the disease is diagnosed. Stage 1 — the lowest stage — indicates that the cancer is confined to the ovaries. At this stage, a cure may be achieved with surgery alone. By stage 4, the cancer has spread to distant areas of the body. At this point, treatment is more complex, often involving drug therapies and potentially immunotherapy, which uses the immune system to attack cancer cells.

Dr. Weroha encourages patients to explore all their treatment options, including clinical trials.

"I think one of the biggest misconceptions that I see with patients is that clinical trials are supposed to be a last resort, and that is absolutely not true," says Dr. Weroha. "What we do at Mayo, and really everywhere else, is we try to bring clinical trials to our patients — not because we want to test whether or not this brand-new drug works, but we already believe the drug works. We think it's going to work, and we want to give that to our patients because they can't get it any other way, except through a clinical trial."

On the Mayo Clinic Q&A podcast, Dr. Weroha discusses the latest treatments for ovarian cancer.

To practice safe social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic, this interview was conducted using video conferencing. The sound and video quality are representative of the technology used. For the safety of its patients, staff and visitors, Mayo Clinic has strict masking policies in place. Anyone shown without a mask was recorded prior to COVID-19 or recorded in an area not designated for patient care, where social distancing and other safety protocols were followed.

Read the full transcript.

For more information and all your COVID-19 coverage, go to the Mayo Clinic News Network and mayoclinic.org.

Connect with others talking about ovarian cancer, and supporting one another in the Gynecologic Cancers support group

Interested in more newsfeed posts like this? Go to the Podcasts blog.

Is there a way to see if someone is predisposed to ovarian cancer? Then simply remove the ovaries if beyond child bearing?
Cheri

REPLY
@cbaird

Is there a way to see if someone is predisposed to ovarian cancer? Then simply remove the ovaries if beyond child bearing?
Cheri

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@cbaird, here is a comprehensive list of risk factors related to ovarian cancer from the American Cancer Society.
– Ovarian Cancer Risk Factors https://www.cancer.org/cancer/ovarian-cancer/causes-risks-prevention/risk-factors.html

Some ovarian cancers may be genetically related. "Up to 25% of ovarian cancers are a part of family cancer syndromes resulting from inherited changes (mutations) in certain genes."

If you have a family history of ovarian, breast and/or colorectal cancer, you may wish to speak to your doctor about genetic testing.
– About genetic testing https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/genetic-testing/about/pac-20384827

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Thank you Colleen for the good information!

My concern is from fertility drugs through IVF that did not work. No family history that I know of at this time.

REPLY
@cbaird

Thank you Colleen for the good information!

My concern is from fertility drugs through IVF that did not work. No family history that I know of at this time.

Jump to this post

I get that. According to the American Cancer Society:
"Fertility treatment with in vitro fertilization (IVF) seems to increase the risk of the type of ovarian tumors known as "borderline" or "low malignant potential". Other studies, however, have not shown an increased risk of invasive ovarian cancer with fertility drugs. If you are taking fertility drugs, you should discuss the potential risks with your doctor."

Currently there's no screening method for ovarian cancer like mammograms for breast cancer or PAP for cervical cancer. There are many risk factors over which we have no control. But there are a few that we can like not smoking, no HRT after menopause, maintain a healthy weight, to name a few, and then to focus on living. 🙂

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