1 AnswerDr William Li, MD, Internal Medicine, answered
1 AnswerOvarian Cancer Research Fund (OCRF) answeredIn addition to helping the body identify and fight ovarian cancer, researchers hope to boost the body’s natural, cancer-fighting immune response by making a small army of immune cells bigger and stronger. Research has shown that ovarian cancer patients with more immune cells infiltrating their tumors survived longer than those with fewer tumor-infiltrating immune cells. This suggests that the immune system is capable of helping the body fight ovarian tumors, but needs help to increase that tumor-specific immune response.
To that end, scientists have developed a personalized ovarian cancer vaccine by exposing immune cells to a mix of proteins from a patient’s own tumor, coaxing the immune system to kill the tumor cells. The experimental vaccine is being tested in clinical trials.
A complication of the situation is the fact that ovarian cancer cells produce substances that block the immune system by creating a physical barrier of blood vessels that prevent immune cells from getting into the tumor. Researchers hope that drugs that stop blood vessel growth could help make tumors more responsive to immune therapies.
Other research is investigating the possibility of taking the T cells of the body's immune system, isolating them from the patient, concentrating them and putting them back into the patient's body in a stronger formulation. This approach would be accompanied with drugs that break down the cancer's barriers to T cells.
Beyond their potential cancer-fighting power, immunotherapies are typically much less toxic and have few side effects than traditional chemotherapy, offering additional benefits to patients in the form of better quality of life. As this field of research continues to grow, patients have much to be optimistic about. Powerful new cancer-fighting drugs with fewer side effects represent a major advance in the ongoing battle against ovarian cancer.
1 AnswerOvarian Cancer Research Fund (OCRF) answeredA critical first step in treating ovarian cancer is to help the cancer-fighting immune cells recognize cancer cells as enemies. Unfortunately, to the immune system, most cancer cells look too much like all other cells in your body.
By studying the interaction between cells, scientists are learning how to make immune cells in patients consider the cancer cells as invaders. This research has yielded a new vaccine that stimulates the immune system’s response against certain proteins in the cancer, much like the flu vaccine teaches the body to fight off the flu. Tested in women who are in remission from ovarian cancer and at high risk of recurrence, the results are promising. As long as ovarian cancer cannot be prevented, a vaccine that can help prevent recurrence is an important development.
1 AnswerDr Kord Strebel, MD, OBGYN (Obstetrics & Gynecology), answered on behalf of Sunrise Hospital & Medical Center
1 AnswerInternal radiation therapy (brachytherapy) is used to treat cancer. With internal radiation therapy, a radiologist places radioactive material inside the body. These “seeds” give off radiation to destroy nearby cancer cells. The seeds may be placed inside the body with needles, catheters or minor surgeries. Some of the seeds are permanent, and some are temporary. The permanent seeds stop giving off radiation over time. They do no damage by remaining in the body.
1 AnswerDrink alcohol in moderation, if at all, if you're being treated for cancer. Alcohol may contribute to dehydration, can lower the abilities of your immune system to fight infection and provides no beneficial nutrients.
1 AnswerTalk to your healthcare team before taking any vitamins or supplements. Some medications and cancer treatments may interact with vitamins and supplements. Choose food first as the main source for nutrients.
1 AnswerThe “8 X 8 rule” is a good place to start. Aim to drink 8, 8-ounce glasses (for a total of 64 ounces) of caffeine-free fluid a day. Drinks that contain caffeine contribute to fluid loss. Here are some ways to make sure you stay properly hydrated:
- Drink fluids throughout the day instead of waiting to drink when you feel thirsty.
- Keep a glass, cup or bottle of water in sight at all times. It is much more likely that you will drink fluids when they are within reach.
- Keep track of the fluids you drink to make sure you are getting enough.
- decaf coffee
- decaf tea
- fruit or vegetable juice
- decaf soda
- sports drinks
- liquid nutrition supplements
- hot chocolate
- soup and broth
- ice cream
- fruit ice