September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. About 20,000 women in the U.S. are diagnosed with ovarian cancer each year, according to the CDC. Meet an Ohio mother whose ovarian cancer was virtually washed away – and has stayed away – thanks, in part, to a ‘chemo bath’ procedure.
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CLEVELAND – September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month.
About 20,000 women in the U.S. are diagnosed with ovarian cancer each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Ovarian cancer is often caught in late stages, is difficult to treat, and typically comes back again, and again.
But Dena Svoboda’s cancer was virtually washed away – and has stayed away – thanks, in part, to a ‘chemo bath’.
At 56, Svoboda never expected a bad case of acid reflux to be cancer.
“I thought it was gallbladder and it wasn’t – it ended up being a 25 pound tumor,” she said.
Svoboda was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. She had surgery to remove the tumor, followed by chemotherapy, but just over a year later, the cancer was back.
“She didn’t have disease everywhere, she had a few spots of cancer,” said Robert DeBernardo, M.D., of Cleveland Clinic.
During an eight-and-a-half hour surgery, doctors at Cleveland Clinic removed cancer on Svoboda’s appendix, gallbladder and bowels– then gave the inside of her abdomen a ‘chemo bath.’
“Once all the cancer is out, we basically put some tubes in the abdomen, close the abdomen and circulate chemotherapy,” said Dr. DeBernardo. “The goal is to have people live longer and live better and we can control the disease further.”
When ovarian cancer returns, there’s a slim chance of being cured with traditional chemotherapy.
But recent research shows women who get a ‘chemo bath’ after surgery fare better and live longer.
Typically, Svoboda would have been expected to live about a year, instead she’s been in remission for almost four.
“I’m one of the lucky ones, so, it’s allowed me to just continue living,” said Svoboda.
Svoboda’s cancer is being managed like a chronic disease and she receives an infusion of chemotherapy every five weeks to keep the cancer at bay.
She encourages women to talk to their doctors about ovarian cancer symptoms – loss of appetite, acid reflux, or extreme bloating.