Ovarian cancer ranks as the fifth cause of cancer deaths among women, taking the lives of more than 14,000 women per year.
If detected before it spreads, survival rates are typically higher than 90 percent, while advanced-stage disease can be much more challenging to treat, according to a news release from Edward Hospital in Naperville.
However, new research shows a promising option for patients suffering from stage III ovarian cancer.
Research reported in the Jan. 18, 2018 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine suggests HIPEC (hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy), a treatment modality for abdominal cancers, results in longer survival rates for patients with stage III ovarian cancer when combined with abdominal cancer surgery.
Cancer survivor Raisa Frenkel, now 65, had the procedure almost five years ago.
In the fall of 2013, fullness and pain in her abdomen caused Frenkel to visit her doctor, who discovered a pelvic mass on a CT scan and an elevated level of a protein in her blood that can indicate ovarian cancer.
Frenkel, a resident of Chicago, had surgery to remove the mass in November 2013, but pathology reports revealed the presence of cancer in the connective tissue around her ovaries and small bowel, liver and spleen.
Frenkel’s son, Edward Frenkel, translates for his mother, who speaks only Russian, and describes what happened next.
“In the waiting room, the doctor explained my mom needed another surgery or she could die,” Edward said in a news release. “We were so scared.”
But Frenkel’s doctor also shared that there was a skilled surgeon at Edward Hospital in Naperville who could perform HIPEC, a procedure that combines surgery for abdominal cancer with chemotherapy and heat to kill cancer cells in the abdomen.
Reluctant to have more surgery, Frenkel scheduled an appointment with surgical oncologist Dr. George Salti,co-medical director of the Edward Cancer Center and medical director of the Edward Hospital surgical oncology program.
Salti is one of a few surgeons in Chicagoland with the expertise to perform HIPEC.
Salti removed as much of the tumor as possible, targeting areas where ovarian cancer typically spreads. Following the surgical removal of affected areas, he delivered a chemotherapy solution via catheter to her abdominal cavity where it circulated for about 90 minutes to destroy any undetected tumor cells.
This approach allows chemotherapy to be delivered in a single, higher dose with fewer side effects. While many patients require additional systemic treatments following HIPEC, others, like Frenkel, did not.
Frankel's procedure took place in February 2014. She is now celebrating four-and-a-half years cancer-free.
For more information about HIPEC, visit www.eehealth.org/services/cancer/surgery/hipec-procedure. For more information about cancer services at Edward-Elmhurst Health, visit www.eehealth.org/services/cancer.