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Talc & Ovarian Cancer – Staying Healthy after Treatment

talc twoWomen’s Health News Desk, August 11, 2016 ~ As part of our series on the use of talcum powder and its suspected link to ovarian cancer, author Eva Hvingelby, NP PhD writes about keeping healthy after you have been treated for cancer. Juries have found enough evidence to award plaintiffs $55 million in recent months so the evidence is mounting and convincing.  If you are using talcum powder, baby powder or shower-to-shower type powders for feminine hygiene, you may want to reconsider that habit.  

Hvingelby writes on Staying Healthy after Treatment.

If you were diagnosed and treated for ovarian cancer, there are certain things you need to do, to have the best possible chance of long term recovery. Keeping thorough records is key to ensuring everyone on your team knows what has been done. There will be many follow up exams required to determine how well you responded to treatment. You will also have to recover from common treatment side effects, and cope with the stress of having a life-changing diagnosis.

 

Staying Organized

  1. Be sure you do not allow your health insurance to lapse. You will need additional follow up exams and tests. If there are any concerns about the cancer coming back, doctors may need to order expensive scans. Time is of the essence.
  2. Keep a copy of your initial biopsy results, and any additional biopsies you’ve had.
  3. Keep detailed records of all of your treatments. Write down which drugs you took and for how long.
  4. Request a copy of your radiation summary report, if you had radiation therapy.
  5. If your tumor was surgically removed, keep a copy of your surgery report.
  6. Keep a copy of any discharge summaries, if you were ever hospitalized.

Keep the originals of these documents in a folder at home. Also scan and upload the documents for safe storage. This way you can easily send the information to new docs, or if you are admitted to a new hospital they will be easy to access.

 

Regular Blood Tests

Son holds mother's hand, WikiCommons

Son holds mother’s hand, WikiCommons

You will need to have frequent follow up evaluations after treatment. Depending on the type of ovarian tumor you had, blood tests will be ordered. Some common blood tests you may need include:

CA-125 levels

CA 19-9

CEA

HE-4

Alfa-fetoprotein (AFP)

Human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG)

Estrogen, Testosterone, Inhibin

Blood test results are one element in determining if treatment was successful, if the tumor is shrinking, or if it is growing back.

 

Coping with Side Effects from Treatments

There can be both short term and long term side effects from cancer treatment. Common chemotherapy side effects include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, anxiety, and headache. These usually resolve within 1-2 weeks after chemotherapy has ended.

Radiation can produce immediate symptoms such as flushing, peeling skin, and severe diarrhea. It can also lead to scar tissue and nerve damage that cause long term discomfort. Radiation oncologists can help guide management of complications that develop after radiation therapy.

Surgery can change the way your body functions. For example, you will no longer be able to have a baby if your ovaries and uterus were removed. If a section of your intestines had to be removed, you may have a stoma which is an artificial opening to the surface of your abdomen over which you will wear a bag to catch drainage. Stomas can sometimes be reversed so that normal bowel function returns. Surgery can also lead to scar tissue within the abdominal cavity. Follow-up with the surgeon for any new symptoms or complications is important.

 

Dealing with the Emotional Strain

A diagnosis of cancer is life-changing and can bring up many different emotions. It is natural to grieve the loss of any of your organs, or changes in how your body functions. Cancer may change how you view the world, and what you feel is most important in your life. There are excellent cancer survivor groups where others who have experienced what you are going through can share their stories. These groups are good for both the patient and their loved ones.

 

 

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