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How to talk to a doctor about advanced ovarian cancer >>

Ovarian Cancer, Ambulatory Care

Ovarian cancer

may occur in one or both of your ovaries. Ovaries produce eggs and hormones, such as estrogen and progesterone. These hormones are important in helping the body work correctly.

Common symptoms include the following:

  • Abdominal fullness, bloating, or swelling
  • Loss of appetite or weight loss
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Changes in your menstrual cycle, including abnormal bleeding
  • Abdominal or low back pain
  • A need to urinate frequently

Call 911 for any of the following:

  • Warm, tender, swollen, red, and painful arm or leg
  • Suddenly feeling lightheaded and short of breath
  • Chest pain when you take a deep breath or cough
  • Coughing up blood

Seek immediate care for the following symptoms:

  • Vomiting multiple times and not being able to keep any food or liquids down

Treatment for ovarian cancer

may include any of the following:

  • Surgery may be needed to remove one or both of your ovaries.
  • Chemotherapy medicines are used to kill cancer cells.
  • Radiation is used to kill cancer cells and to shrink the tumor or tumors with x-rays or gamma rays.

Do not smoke:

Smoking increases your risk for new or returning cancer. Smoking can also delay healing after treatment. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you currently smoke and need help quitting.

Manage your ovarian cancer:

  • Weigh yourself daily. Weigh yourself in the morning before breakfast. Weight gain can be a sign of extra fluid in your body. Call your healthcare provider if you gain at least 2 pounds in a day.
  • Drink liquids as directed. Ask how much liquid to drink each day and which liquids are best for you. Drink extra liquids to prevent dehydration. You will also need to replace fluid if you are vomiting or have diarrhea from cancer treatments.
  • Eat enough protein and calories. Foods may taste different during cancer treatment. You may not feel like eating, and you may lose weight. Eat a variety of health foods. Healthy foods include fruits, vegetables, whole-grain breads, low-fat dairy products, beans, lean meats, and fish. Eat small meals every 2 to 3 hours. Ask a dietitian for more information about the best eating plan for you.
  • Exercise as directed. Ask about the best exercise plan for you. Exercise may improve your energy levels and appetite.
  • Limit or do not drink alcohol as directed. Limit alcohol to 1 drink per day. A drink of alcohol is 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1½ ounces of liquor.

Prevent ovarian cancer:

  • Take birth control pills as directed. Birth control pills that contain progestin may help protect you from ovarian cancer. Your healthcare provider may recommend you keep taking birth control pills for several years.
  • Breastfeed your baby. Breastfeeding may help prevent ovarian cancer.

Follow up with your oncologist as directed:

You may need to return for more treatment. You may also need blood tests or other tests. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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