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Ovarian Cancer Health Center

Chemotherapy for Ovarian Cancer: Help Your Doctor Understand Your Preferences

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Discussing Your Treatment Plan continued...

The standard approach is to use a platinum compound, such as cisplatin or carboplatin, and a taxane, such as Taxol or Taxotere. For IV chemotherapy, most doctors favor carboplatin over cisplatin because it has fewer side effects and is just as effective. In addition, Taxol is favored over Taxotere due to a greater experience with Taxol.

Talk to your oncologist about the schedule that is most appropriate for your treatment. Different drugs have varying cycles, and the number of treatment cycles you have will depend on the stage of your disease. A cycle is a schedule that allows regular doses of a drug, followed by a rest period. For example, if you have advanced ovarian cancer, your oncologist may recommend a course of chemotherapy that involves six cycles, with each cycle given once every three weeks.

Let's Talk Side Effects

You are probably concerned about the side effects you could experience with chemotherapy. Fortunately, newer types of chemotherapy cause fewer and milder side effects.

It is difficult to predict which side effects you may experience, if any. Common temporary side effects may include hair loss, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, and muscle and joint pain. You may also be at increased risk for bruising, bleeding, infection, and anemia. Permanent side effects can include premature menopause, infertility, and numbness in your fingers and toes.

Raise any specific concerns about side effects with your oncologist. Your doctor may prescribe medications to prevent nausea and vomiting before chemotherapy. If you have pre-existing conditions like nerve or kidney issues, your doctor may need to tailor your treatment plan differently. 

Research suggests that a drug combination with fewer side effects may help more women gain the full benefit of their cancer treatment. Talk to your doctor about your treatment options. Together you can decide what is right for you. 

Keeping Lines of Communication Open

You should feel comfortable discussing your treatment plan with your oncologist. The more information you communicate with your doctors and nurses about how you are feeling, the more they can help you achieve the best quality of life during treatment. Don’t hesitate to ask questions.

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