Ovarian Cancer: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

Ovarian cancer occurs when abnormal cells grow out of control in or near your ovaries. These cells may spread to other areas in the body. The ovaries are the organs that hold and release a woman's eggs.

Treatment usually involves surgery to remove the ovaries. Chemotherapy may also be used. Radiation therapy is rarely used, but in some cases it might be part of treatment. You also may get medicines to help with the side effects of chemotherapy, which may include nausea, vomiting, and fatigue.

Finding out that you have cancer is scary. You may feel many emotions and may need some help coping. Seek out family, friends, and counsellors for support. You can do things at home to make yourself feel better while you go through treatment. You also can call the Canadian Cancer Society (1-888-939-3333) or visit its website at www.cancer.ca for more information.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Take your medicines exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor or nurse call line if you think you are having a problem with your medicine. You may get medicine for nausea and vomiting if you have these side effects.
  • Eat healthy food. If you do not feel like eating, try to eat food that has protein and extra calories to keep up your strength and prevent weight loss. Drink liquid meal replacements for extra calories and protein. Try to eat your main meal early. Eating smaller portions more often may help as well.
  • Get some physical activity every day, but do not get too tired. Keep doing the hobbies you enjoy as your energy allows.
  • Take steps to control your stress and workload. Learn relaxation techniques.
    • Share your feelings. Stress and tension affect our emotions. By expressing your feelings to others, you may be able to understand and cope with them.
    • Consider joining a support group. Talking about a problem with your spouse, a good friend, or other people with similar problems is a good way to reduce tension and stress.
    • Express yourself through art. Try writing, dance, art, or crafts to relieve tension. Some dance, writing, or art groups may be available just for people who have cancer.
    • Be kind to your body and mind. Getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, and taking time to do things you enjoy can contribute to an overall feeling of balance in your life and help reduce stress.
    • Get help if you need it. Discuss your concerns with your doctor or counsellor.
  • If you are vomiting or have diarrhea:
    • Drink plenty of fluids (enough so that your urine is light yellow or clear like water) to prevent dehydration. Choose water and other caffeine-free clear liquids. If you have kidney, heart, or liver disease and have to limit fluids, talk with your doctor before you increase the amount of fluids you drink.
    • When you are able to eat, try clear soups, mild foods, and liquids until all symptoms are gone for 12 to 48 hours. Other good choices include dry toast, crackers, cooked cereal, and gelatin dessert, such as Jell-O.
  • Take care of your urinary tract to prevent problems such as infection, which can be caused by ovarian cancer and its treatment. Limit drinks with caffeine, drink plenty of fluids, and urinate every 3 or 4 hours. Consider adding cranberry juice to your diet.
  • If you have not already done so, prepare an advance care plan. An advance care plan provides instructions to your doctor and family members about what kind of care you want if you become unable to speak or express yourself.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You passed out (lost consciousness).
  • You have severe belly pain.
  • Your vomiting continues and you cannot keep anything down.
  • You feel like you are going to pass out.

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have belly pain.
  • Your belly gets very bloated and you begin to vomit.
  • You have a fever.
  • You have other severe pain.
  • You have severe constipation.
  • You stop urinating.
  • You have trouble breathing.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:

  • You feel very sad, anxious, or both.

Where can you learn more?

Go to http://www.healthwise.net/ed

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