Women's Health Matters

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Living With Cancer

Ovarian cancer is a difficult illness. Like many cancers, the treatments can be exhausting and unpleasant, and even when treatment is complete, the fear of recurrence continues.

Your illness may mean new restrictions on your life and this may leave you feeling frustrated, angry or overwhelmed.

You may also be afraid of pain or what will happen in the future. The support of your family and friends will be important, but sometimes the people close to us don't know what to say or how to help. This can be particularly true for women, who may have always been the caregivers. Talk to the staff where you get your treatments about the resources available to you. They may be able to refer you to support groups where you can meet other women who have had the same experiences. They can also direct you to counselling services or support services that can help you cope with new limitations.

As much as possible, try to continue with the activities that have always brought you pleasure. Your life and pleasure are important. Being able to continue enjoying your life is the main purpose of your treatments.

For Women of Child-Bearing Age

For women of childbearing age who are diagnosed with ovarian cancer in the early stages, it may be possible to preserve fertility, by removing one or both ovaries and keeping the uterus. Women with ovarian cancer who wish to have children also have the options of donating or freezing their eggs and surrogacy. If you wish to have children, ask your doctor or a fertility specialist to review your options with you.

The treatment for ovarian cancer often means that you will no longer be able to have children. This can be difficult for you and, if you have a partner, for your partner as well. Even if you do not plan on having any (more) children, this may be an emotional time for you. Give yourself time to grieve this loss.

Treatment for ovarian cancer often causes a woman to have early menopause. Early menopause may bring up concerns about aging and affect your feelings about your sexuality. For more information about sex and menopause, visit our Sexual Health Centre.

There are treatments available to alleviate your symptoms. You may be advised to consider hormone therapy (HT), to alleviate hot flashes. HT is a controversial subject. It can improve a woman’s quality of life after surgical menopause, and there is no evidence that HT adversely affects the prognosis of women with ovarian cancer. At the same time, research has shown that, when taken for 10 or more years, it may be linked to ovarian cancer as well as breast cancer and blood clots; however, these risks are small. Discuss the benefits and risks with your health-care providers. Ultimately, whether or not you decide to use HT is your choice.


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  • A publication of:
  • Women's College Hospital