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Chemotherapy for Ovarian Cancer: Help Your Doctor Understand Your Preferences

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.

Find out if your doctor's office offers any support resources, like patient handouts about chemotherapy and how to manage side effects. Some hospitals and cancer treatment centers offer a patient navigator service to help you cope with the psychosocial, emotional, and financial challenges of cancer.

Be proactive about learning about your chemotherapy treatment and ovarian cancer care. By keeping the lines of communication open with your doctors and nurses, you can help ensure you get the highest quality of care.

Printable Checklist of Questions

Here's a basic checklist to help you discuss chemotherapy with your doctor:

  • Do you have any patient handouts about chemotherapy and ovarian cancer?
  • Which clinical trials am I eligible for? What are the pros and cons?
  • What type of CVC do you recommend and why?
  • Am I a candidate for IP chemotherapy? If so, what are the risks and benefits?
  • What are potential side effects of my chemotherapy treatment?
  • What resources do you suggest to help manage side effects?
  • What signs should I look for that might indicate the ovarian cancer has come back?
  • What's the best way to contact you or a nurse with questions in between visits?

 

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WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Sujana Movva, MD on October 29, 2012

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