Ovarian Cancer is known as “the cancer that whispers” because symptoms are often ignored or believed to be a part of another disease process. Out of all of the gynecological cancers, ovarian cancer has the highest rate of mortality. 70% of ovarian cancers are diagnosed at stages III and IV. These women are commonly younger in age when compared to women affected by other types of cancer. Unfortunately, there is no definitive screening test for detecting ovarian cancer and furthermore, the cause of this type of cancer is unknown.
What are the risk factors to be aware of? Genetics plays a significant role in ovarian cancer. Mutations in BRCA 1 and 2 genes can increase the risk of getting ovarian cancer. Increasing age and hormonal therapy are other risk factors linked to ovarian cancer.
In order for ovarian cancer to be diagnosed, a surgical biopsy must be conducted. Tumor markers CA 125 are found on the surface of ovarian cells and levels can be tested in the blood. However, CA 125 is NOT used as a screening tool for ovarian cancer, because it is not specific to ovarian cancer and it is not always elevated in women with ovarian cancer.
The staging of ovarian cancer is determined as follows:
Stage I – Cancer found in one or both ovaries
Stage II – Spread to other parts of pelvis
Stage III – Spread to abdomen
Stage IV – Found outside abdomen
The most common conventional treatment for ovarian cancer is surgery followed by chemotherapy.
Naturopathic treatment for ovarian cancer revolves around supporting conventional treatment such as chemotherapy; particularly in managing side effects such as nausea, vomiting, pain, myelosuppression, neurotoxicity and more.
Artesunate, which is derived from the plant Artemesia wormwood is effective in affecting cancer cells. A study in 2007 was conducted by Llao et al. particularly for the use of dihydroartemesin (DHA) in ovarian cancer. In this study, DHA inhibited the growth of human ovarian cancer cells in various stages of cancer cell cycle development.
Used as a novel therapy in Europe, Mistletoe helps to reduce the rate and potential for metastasis, while improving quality of life. Mistletoe has also shown to improve survival rates in women without metastatic ovarian cancer. Its benefits extend to improving appetite and energy.
For more information on how naturopathic medicine can benefit patients with ovarian cancer, please contact our clinic today.