Chemotherapy in gynecologic cancers
Gynecologic cancers involve cancers that affect different areas such as cervical cancer, ovarian cancer and uterine cancer. Cancers like vaginal and vulvar cancers can also be present but less than other cancer cases. Cervical cancer is the second most common gynecologic cancer after breast cancer and it is referred to as the “silent killer” since most cases of cervical cancers are caused by HPV (human papillomavirus) and HPV infections occur without any symptoms. If patients have genital HPV infections which left untreated for many years, these can lead to cell changes and progress to cancer.
Dr.Tanomsiri Satithit, gynecologic oncologist talks about how gynecologic cancers are treated. She said that “the treatment which includes surgery, radiation and chemotherapy depends on the kind of cancer. Around last 10-20 years ago, Thai people usually fear about chemotherapy, they are afraid of having frequent IV placement and repeated blood drawn. They are also nervous about side effects from chemotherapy. However, the treatment of cancer today has improved significantly. New types of medications that can be the effective treatment are available in the industry such as Targeted therapies (but they are quite expensive). Therefore, gynecologic cancers can now be curable than ever before. Yet, this depends on the stage of cancer and patient cooperation. In addition, patients must not be scared of chemotherapy because now this treatment option has been made to be more comfortable for patients by port being placed underneath the skin to allow administration of medication, and IV fluid as well as blood draw.
Port A Cath is a small round device (2 cm.) through which needle is inserted for delivering IVfluid, obtaining blood samples, and giving medication. It is completely placed under the skin (either located in the chest or forearm) that is connected to the venous line. When the physicians would like to deliver IV fluids, take out blood or administer chemotherapy drugs, they will feel the port between her/his fingers and insert the special needle for the delivery. The port is placed by vascular surgeon and after the placement, patients can bathe normally. It can be left accessed for many years. The doctor said” In the United States, almost of the patients who require chemotherapy drugs have the port placed because it does not damage the veins, As a result, the veins can be kept to use for other therapies. Moreover, some types of chemotherapy can leak outside a vein and cause tissue damage which may lead to skin breakdown. When chemotherapy drugs are given into a vein several times, the veins may collapse or become hard and uncomfortable. Consequently, it is better to have an implanted port.
Chemotherapy drugs are given to the cancer patients when necessary. For cervical cancer, chemotherapy drugs are needed in the case of cancer that has come back and when the surgery and radiation do not work effectively. Chemotherapy drugs may also be used to treat cancers that have spread to other organs and tissues and sometimes are given together with radiation. On the other hand, chemotherapy drugs are given after surgery to treat ovarian cancer in order to determine its stage.
At present, the tendency for gynecologic cancers to be developed is still high. One cause of this is less women access to the screening tool and most women are too shy to undergo pelvic exam. Women should be aware of the importance of annual pelvic exam and Pap smear test. If the cancer is detected earlier, the advanced treatment that is now available can be 100% successful in clearing away the cancer.
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