Health Library

Lifestyle Changes to Manage Ovarian Cancer

Lifestyle changes can help:

  • Strengthen the body to cope better with treatment
  • The immune system to fight against cancer
  • Improve mood
  • Prevent other medical problems

General Guidelines

  • Quitting smoking
  • Managing menopause and sexual side effects
  • Reducing the risk of infection
  • Making dietary changes
  • Exercising regularly
  • Managing tiredness
  • Seeking support
  • Comfort measures

Quitting Smoking

The body needs to heal from cancer treatments. Smoking puts toxic chemicals into the body. This makes it more difficult to heal. Smoking increases the risk of problems from medical procedures. It can also slow tissue healing.

Quitting smoking helps the body repair itself. Quitting will help boost the immune system. This helps fight the cancer and improve recovery from treatment.

Managing Menopause and Sexual Side Effects

Removing the ovaries can induce menopause. So can certain treatments. Menopause causes a variety of symptoms. They may include:

  • Hot flashes
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Pain with intercourse
  • Decreased sex drive
  • depression

Menopause and sexual side effects can be treated. Some treatments are:

  • Lifestyle changes
  • Hormone replacement therapy (HRT)
  • Vaginal lubricants and moisturizers
  • Alternative treatments
  • Counseling

Reducing The Risk of Infection

Cancer and its treatments suppress the body's immune system. This can increase the risk of infection. It can also increase how severe common infections are, like a cold or the flu. These steps can help decrease the risk of infection during treatment:

  • Washing hands thoroughly and often—or using hand sanitizer
  • Avoiding crowds—especially during cold and flu season
  • Not touching eyes, mouth, and nose
  • Cleaning and disinfecting surfaces and objects often
  • Getting vaccines as advised by the doctor. Examples are vaccines for the flu and pneumonia .

Making Dietary Changes

A healthful diet can help the body in many ways. It can improve mood and energy levels. Good nutrition also helps tissue heal and recover.

Cancer and some of its treatments can make a person not want to eat. It is important to make the most of the calories that are eaten. A dietitian can make a meal plan to help with these challenges.

Exercising Regularly

Exercise has many benefits. It can help the body cope better with cancer and treatment. Exercise can help by:

  • Promoting overall fitness
  • Boosting energy
  • Improving the immune system
  • Boosting mood and improving emotional outlook
guidance on safe exercise.

It is also important to balance rest and activities. This can help to prevent excess tiredness.

Managing Tiredness

Being tired is common with cancer and its treatment. It helps to focus on the most important tasks. Getting help with chores, shopping, and meals is also helpful. Planning rest periods is important too.

Seeking Support

It can be difficult to cope with a cancer diagnosis. A serious disease brings uncertainty and anxiety. Worries about treatment and lifestyle changes can be overwhelming. Having support helps a person cope better. Some sources of support are:

  • Family and friends
  • Religious community
  • Support groups for people with the same type of cancer
  • Social workers and counselors who specialize in cancer

Family and caregivers may also need support. Support groups or counseling can help them.

Comfort Measures

Ovarian cancer is often found in late stages. This makes it harder to treat. Some people choose comfort treatments. Or they choose to stop treatment completely. This may be time to start end-of-life planning. Some things to consider are:

  • Choosing home or hospice care
  • Decisions about money
  • Advance directives, which include:
  • Legal issues, like wills
  • Hospital orders for care
  • Power of attorney for medical care and finances
  • Insurance coverage

The healthcare team can provide more information on these concerns

References

Menopause. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/menopause. Accessed March 23, 2022.

Ovarian cancer. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/ovarian-cancer. Accessed March 23, 2022.

Ovarian cancer. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/gynecology-and-obstetrics/gynecologic-tumors/ovarian-cancer. Accessed March 23, 2022.

Ovarian epithelial, fallopian tube, and primary peritoneal cancer. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: https://www.cancer.gov/types/ovarian/patient/ovarian-epithelial-treatment-pdq. Accessed March 23, 2022.

Stay healthy. American Cancer Society website. Available at: https://www.cancer.org/healthy.html. Accessed March 23, 2022.