Not all gynecologic cancer patients will require chemotherapy. But for those who do, Froedtert & The Medical College of Wisconsin presents a broad range of treatment options, including standard intravenous chemotherapy, intravenous and intraperitoneal chemotherapy, and novel combinations of drugs offered as part of national clinical trials.
Froedtert & The Medical College of Wisconsin were the first in the region to offer intraperitoneal chemotherapy for patients with ovarian cancer – just a month after the national Gynecologic Oncology Group published a report showing increased survival rates for ovarian cancer patients treated with a combination of intravenous and intraperitoneal chemotherapy (chemotherapy instilled directly into the abdomen).
Today, approximately 80 percent of our ovarian cancer patients qualify for – and receive – intraperitoneal chemotherapy. Nationwide, only about 50 percent of women who qualify for intraperitoneal chemotherapy receive the potentially life-saving treatment.
Chemotherapy is medication given with the intention to treat or kill cancer cells. Not all gynecologic cancer patients will require chemotherapy. But for those who do, the gynecologic oncologists and their team at Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin have extensive expertise in the administration of chemotherapy and the treatment of gynecologic cancers.
Chemotherapy is often administered through a mediport, which is an implanted device that allows for chemotherapy as well as lab draws, intravenous fluids, and blood transfusions.
Intraperitoneal chemotherapy is instilled through a catheter that goes into the abdominal cavity. This catheter may be placed at the initial surgery or as a separate procedure before therapy is initiated. Intraperitoneal chemotherapy is given in combination with intravenous chemotherapy. The physicians at Froedtert & The Medical College of Wisconsin have extensive experience with intraperitoneal chemotherapy, treating patients with this approach regularly since 2006. At that time the National Institute of Health issued an alert recommending Intraperitoneal chemotherapy for selected patients. At that time, a national report showed increased survival rates for ovarian cancer patients treated with a combination of intravenous and intraperitoneal chemotherapy. Unfortunately, nationwide, only about 50% of women eligible for intraperitoneal chemotherapy are treated with this unique type of therapy.
Our gynecologic oncology team strives to prevent the side effects from the chemotherapy in order to maintain quality of life while on treatment. Patients are supported with medications at home and if needed our infusion center has the ability to administer both medications and intravenous fluids. Our entire team is available to answer questions and provide support to patients. Supportive services include physical therapy, dietary services, support group of women with gynecologic malignancies, psychiatric services, genetic counseling and testing. Physical therapists work with patients during treatment if fatigue or neuropathy is encountered. Our monthly support and educational group is available to all patients and family members. Our oncology psychology services are available to patients and their families. In addition, there are three registered dieticians within the Cancer Center that can help patients manage side effects, such as taste changes or bowel issues.
Small Stones, a place that supports the healing process by helping patients enhance their appearance, promote relaxation, and boost their self esteem, is located directly within the Cancer Center providing valuable services and resources to patients and their families.