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Ovarian Cancer

Side Effects

The side effects of ovarian cancer treatment depend on the type of treatment and may be different for each woman. Doctors and nurses will explain the possible side effects of treatment for ovarian cancer, and they can suggest ways to help relieve problems that may occur during and after treatment.

  • Side Effects of Surgery for Ovarian Cancer causes short-term pain and tenderness in the area of the operation. Discomfort or pain after surgery can be controlled with medicine. Patients should feel free to discuss pain relief with their doctor. For several days after ovarian cancer surgery, the patient may have difficulty emptying her bladder and having bowel movements.

    When both ovaries are removed, a woman loses her ability to become pregnant. Some women may experience feelings of loss that may make intimacy difficult. Counseling or support for both the patient and her partner may be helpful.

    Also, removing the ovaries means that the body's natural source of estrogen and progesterone is lost, and menopause occurs. Symptoms of menopause, such as hot flashes and vaginal dryness, are likely to appear soon after the surgery. Some form of hormone replacement therapy may be used to ease such symptoms. Deciding whether to use it is a personal choice; women with ovarian cancer should discuss with their doctors the possible risks and benefits of using hormone replacement therapy.

  • Chemotherapy Side Effects for Ovarian Cancer affects normal as well as cancerous cells. Side effects depend largely on the specific drugs and the dose (amount of drug given). Common side effects of ovarian cancer chemotherapy include nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite, diarrhea, fatigue, numbness and tingling in hands or feet, headaches, hair loss, and darkening of the skin and fingernails. Certain drugs used in ovarian cancer treatment can cause some hearing loss or kidney damage. To help protect the kidneys while taking these drugs, patients may receive extra fluid intravenously.

  • Ovarian Cancer Side Effects from Radiation Therapy, like chemotherapy, affects normal as well as cancerous cells. Side effects of radiation therapy depend mainly on the treatment dose and the part of the body that is treated. Common side effects of radiation therapy to the abdomen are fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, urinary discomfort, diarrhea, and skin changes on the abdomen. Intraperitoneal radiation therapy for ovarian cancer may cause abdominal pain and bowel obstruction (a blockage of the intestine).

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