Ovarian Cancer - Research, Recovery and Next Steps

Gynecologic Oncology at Mercy

Our ovarian cancer team is dedicated to walking with you throughout your journey - from diagnosis to testing to recovery and beyond. Our patients have access to genetic counseling services, clinical trials, cancer recovery programs and more. We know ovarian cancer is a life-changing event and we work closely with our patients to help them address not just the immediate physical needs, but also the emotional, spiritual and long-term needs.

Genetic Counseling and Testing

Genetic Counseling and Testing for Patients Diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer

Women diagnosed with ovarian cancer often are referred for genetic counseling, which now is considered a standard of care. The specialists at The Lya Segall Ovarian Cancer Institute work closely with genetics experts so patients can obtain comprehensive genetic evaluations, which help family members clarify their risk of cancer as well as guide healthcare decisions for the prevention and detection of cancer.

Genetic counseling is important when ovarian cancer is diagnosed or if there is a family history of cancer, especially when there is:

  • An early onset of cancer (cancer diagnosed at a young age)
  • Multiple cancers
  • Rare cancers
  • Multiple family members with cancer

Women with a diagnosis of ovarian cancer or a family history of ovarian cancer at any age should consider genetic counseling since 10% to 13% of patients with ovarian cancer may have been a result of an inherited susceptibility to breast cancer. When a woman inherits mutated breast cancer genes, she can have an increased risk of developing ovarian cancer as well as breast cancer. In addition, some ethnic groups have a higher risk of inheriting cancer.

Understanding an individual’s genetics associated with an ovarian cancer diagnosis is a two-step process.

Step 1 – Genetic Counseling

Genetic counseling is the first course of action to determine if genetic testing is appropriate. Genetic counselors will review a patient’s family history, medical history and the symptoms which led to the ovarian cancer diagnosis to determine the likelihood of an inherited risk being the cause of cancer. This detailed and individualized process helps to assess what genetic tests, if any, are necessary. Most insurances will cover genetic counseling services when ovarian cancer has been diagnosed.  

Step 2 – Genetic Testing

Genetic testing is performed when indicated following genetic counseling. The type of tests chosen for each patient is based on the genetic counseling results. Depending on findings during the counseling process, either a specific test or a panel of tests will be conducted. BRCA 1 and 2 tests (breast cancer tests) are among the many tests that may be conducted. Results of genetic testing are used to provide cancer risk information and help with cancer prevention and early detection. For women already diagnosed with ovarian cancer, the genetic testing results may help guide treatments.     

NEXT: Questions About Genetic Counseling and Testing ›
Questions About Genetic Counseling and Testing

What do I need to do to prepare for my genetic counseling appointment?

Before your visit, you will receive a family history questionnaire and a personal history questionnaire to complete. For the family history questionnaire, please note all relatives in the categories requested, whether or not they have had cancer. It is important to include the family history from both your father’s side and your mother’s side. Many people are unsure of their family’s medical history. We encourage you to contact other relatives to help you complete the family history questionnaire as much as possible. Even if you are not sure of the specifics (e.g. type of cancer), put down as much information as you do know.

Please bring the following items with you to your consultation:

  • Personal history questionnaire and family history questionnaire
  • Insurance card and ID
  • If you or a member of your family have had genetic testing already, it is imperative that you bring a copy of the genetic testing results
  • Yourself as you are (there is no fasting requirement for the genetic test)

What can I expect at the visit?

Your completed personal history questionnaire and family history questionnaire will be reviewed by the genetic counselor and the physician at the beginning of your visit. You will meet with the genetic counselor who will review your family history with you, discuss the benefits and limitations of genetic testing, and determine the type of testing that may help to clarify your risk. You also will meet with the physician to further discuss the plan for testing and your options for prevention and early detection. If genetic testing is pursued, then further discussion about your health care management plan will take place after we receive the results of the testing. Just because you attend the genetic counseling consultation does NOT mean you have to pursue testing.

The first visit will take about 1 to 1 ½ hours. If genetic testing is done, then you will be called with the results, and another follow-up visit may be scheduled. Please arrive 15 minutes before your scheduled appointment time for registration purposes.

Will insurance cover the visit and testing?

Most insurance plans will cover the genetic counseling visit and follow-up visits. You can call your insurance company to verify if the consultation is covered.

If a genetic test is ordered, the laboratory performing the testing will verify your insurance coverage for the test and will let you know if you will have any out-of-pocket expenses above a certain amount before they initiate testing.

How long will it take to get test results?

The length of time to receive the test results is governed by the type of test ordered and also the requirements of your insurance plan. The amount of time can vary from 7-10 days to up to several months, depending on the complexity of the test. When testing one specific gene, such as BRCA 1 and 2, the results are usually available in one to two weeks.

I was recently diagnosed and need results in a hurry – what can be done to get the results quickly?

If you have been recently diagnosed and are making surgical decisions based on this test, please let us know at the time you schedule the appointment. We reserve several appointment time slots each week for those who need urgent appointments. We will see you for the counseling visit as soon as possible. The genetic test will take about one to two weeks, so you should schedule your surgery accordingly. 

NEXT: Research and Clinical Trials ›
Research and Clinical Trials

Research Milestones - Please see the information below on an innovative clinical trial being conducted at The Ovarian Cancer Institute at Mercy.

Ovarian HIPEC Abstract

Outcomes following Cytoreductive Surgery (CRS) with or without Carboplatin Hyperthermic Intraperitoneal Chemotherapy (HIPEC) followed by systemic combination chemotherapy as initial treatment for ovarian, fallopian tube and primary peritoneal cancer: A Phase II randomized trial.

In the United States, approximately 22,240 women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer (OC) and 14,030 will die of this disease during 2013. More than 70% of women with OC are diagnosed at an advanced stage (stage III-IV) of the disease. The current standard of treatment for patients with advanced Ovarian Cancer is cytoreductive surgery (CRS or debulking), followed by systemic chemotherapy (SC). CRS plus hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC) has become standard therapy for appendiceal and primary peritoneal malignancies – tumors biologically similar to ovarian cancer.

Mercy Medical Center, a known Peritoneal Surface Malignancy Center, has achieved significant success treating these cancers through the use of CRS/HIPEC. We hypothesize that patients newly diagnosed with advanced stage epithelial ovarian, primary peritoneal, or fallopian tube cancers can be successfully treated with CRS/ HIPEC plus SC, improving current recurrence statistics and overall patient survival without compromising long term quality of life.

Our single center study is a randomized phase II trial with the aims of assessing postoperative recovery related to CRS and HIPEC, demonstrating improvement in overall survival, identifying risk factors, determining prognostic and predictive factors affecting treatment, and evaluating health-related quality of life. Forty eight patients, equally and randomly divided between the treatment and control arms, will be enrolled in the study. Data collection will include patient demographics, clinical and pathological diagnoses, surgical management/complications, systemic therapy, chemotherapy sensitivity/resistance, tumor markers, clinical response, follow-up for recurrence, and survival.

Gynecologic and general physical examinations, as well as the appropriate diagnostic tests, will be performed and tumor response rate, disease progression and quality of life will be measured at defined intervals for a period of 5 years. Surgical outcomes and survival data will be identified and reviewed using Kaplan Meier survival analysis. Descriptive statistics will be used to demonstrate clinical and surgical management, complications, response rate, risk factors, recurrence, and morbidity/ mortality. Patients newly diagnosed with advanced stage ovarian, primary peritoneal, and fallopian tube cancers, treated with CRS/HIPEC followed by SC will demonstrate an increased progression-free and overall survival compared to patients who receive standard therapy.

Mercy Medical Center is proud to take a leadership role in the first clinical study in the United States to Treat Ovarian Cancer with HIPEC.

NEXT: Recovery and Survivorship ›
Recovery and Survivorship

At The Lya Segall Ovarian Cancer Institute at Mercy, a team of experts walks patients through diagnosis, treatment and finally, recovery. In addition to addressing the medical aspects of recovery, our team offers access to support groups, nutrition experts, a Pastoral Care team, patient education and more. 

We offer a specialized support program that partners ovarian cancer survivors with women who are currently undergoing treatment for ovarian cancer. This unique program provides women with mentoring and support from a trained survivor with first-hand knowledge of the challenges of ovarian cancer.

Recovery and returning to life activities is an important part of the ovarian cancer journey. We are here to walk with you and provide support when you need it. Our online list of helpful resources may be of assistance you - this guide provides informational websites, cancer resources, community outreach programs and health information.

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