Add a Year to Your Life After Ovarian Cancer

Add a Year to Your Life After Ovarian Cancer

For women's cancers, where you get treatment may extend your life.

If you or a loved one is coping with ovarian cancer, you may worry that time could run out. But what if there was a way to put precious time back on your side? It turns out, where you're spending your time may make a big difference.

When women are cared for at hospitals that deal with women's cancers on a regular basis, they live about a year longer, according to a large, multi-center study. For women with ovarian cancer, the gain was about a year and a half. Women with vaginal cancers gained about three years.

The researchers pointed out three reasons that could explain why women do better at these kinds of hospitals:

  1. Better coordination of care for these rare, complicated cancers
  2. Better access to clinical trials that are testing the latest treatments options
  3. A better chance of being treated by a gynecologic oncologist -- a doctor with extra training and experience in treating women's cancers.

Practical Advice
Imagine what you could do with another year. Maybe a wedding or graduation is coming up. Maybe a loved one is expecting a baby, and you'd like to see their first heartwarming smiles. A year can mean a lot to you and your family.

Take these steps to get the best care possible:

  • Ask to see a specialist. The study showed that more and more women are going for treatment at these specialized centers, but older women and those with advanced disease weren't as likely to get a referral. Remember, every woman's life is equally meaningful. If you need to see a specialist, don't take "no" for an answer.
  • Choose wisely. Find a facility that treats about 300 gynecologic cancers a year, which was considered a "high-volume center" in the study. These hospitals are usually academic or research centers with top-notch experts. On the other hand, think twice about a hospital that sees fewer than 20 gynecologic cancer patients a year. The National Cancer Institute offers tips on its website about finding a treatment facility that specializes in cancer care.
  • Understand your options. Be sure you know what treatment options make sense for your type of cancer, including surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy and immunotherapy. Ask questions, choose a doctor who takes time to explain and get on the right path toward recovery.
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