At Penn, we specialize in a team approach to cancer treatment with interdisciplinary care and innovative approaches that use chemotherapy to target tumors prior to and after surgery.
Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill cancer cells. It is delivered through the bloodstream, targeting cancer cells throughout the body. Chemotherapy is considered a "systemic" therapy, meaning that it travels throughout the body, unlike surgery or radiation, which are "local" therapies. Chemotherapy is usually delivered intravenously through a catheter, or orally by pill.
Today, more and more people are surviving cancer. Clinical trials benefit patients with access to breakthrough therapies and treatments. These new advances in cancer treatment are occurring every day at Penn Medicine, giving patients hope that even greater discoveries lie ahead. Through clinical trials:
- Diagnosing cancer has become more precise.
- Radiation and surgical techniques have advanced.
- Medications are more successful.
- Combinations of medical, surgical and radiation therapy are improving treatment effectiveness and enhancing outcomes.
- Strategies to address the late effects of cancer and its treatment are improving quality of life.
Radiation therapy uses high-energy X-rays to kill cancer cells. It is generally not used to treat fallopian tube cancer. In special circumstances, radiation may be used to slow the progression of localized disease.
For cases in which radiation therapy is used, Penn Radiation Oncology offers the latest equipment and technology available to treat cancer. Our radiation oncologists are recognized leaders in techniques that target radiation precisely to the treatment area while sparing normal tissue.
Fallopian tube cancer is typically treated with surgery. The FIGO staging system requires an extensive surgical procedure very similar to the one used for ovarian cancer.
In cases of very advanced disease, the goal of surgery is primarily to remove as much tumor as safely possible (cytoreduction). Some surgeons also advocate performing a "second-look" surgery, in which a repeat abdominal surgery is done to look for residual or recurrent disease at a later time.
Our gynecologic surgeons employ minimally invasive techniques like robotic-assisted surgery as the standard of care for treating gynecologic cancers. For some types of fallopian tube cancer, surgeons remove the body of the uterus and the cervix in a procedure known as a hysterectomy.
A hysterectomy may be performed as an open procedure, known as an abdominal hysterectomy, in which the uterus is removed through an incision in the abdomen. If lymph node sampling is needed, this can be done through the same incision as the abdominal hysterectomy.
When the uterus is removed through the vagina, it is called a vaginal hysterectomy. Often done as a minimally invasive procedure using a laparoscope, the vagina and any lymph nodes can be removed through the laparoscope.
Our surgeons consider your medical history, stage of cancer and current health condition to determine the type of surgery needed. Dependent upon the extent of the cancer, surgeons may also perform biopsies in other areas of the abdomen. Partial or complete removal of the omentum, the fatty layer that covers and pads organs in the abdomen, may be necessary.
A simple hysterectomy leaves the loose connective tissue around the uterus (parametrium), the tissue connecting the uterus and sacrum (uterosacral ligaments) and the vagina intact. Removing the ovaries and fallopian tubes is a separate procedure and is often performed along with a hysterectomy.
In a radical hysterectomy, the entire uterus as well as the tissues next to the uterus (parametrium and uterosacral ligaments) and the upper part (about an inch) of the vagina (near the cervix) are removed.
A radical hysterectomy is usually performed abdominally, but can also be performed through the vagina. Most patients undergoing a radical hysterectomy also have a lymph node dissection, in which lymph nodes are removed either through the abdominal incision or by laparoscopic lymph node sampling.
Bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy is the surgical removal of the fallopian tubes and ovaries. This procedure is typically performed for the treatment of early stage fallopian tube cancer, when the tumor is limited to the fallopian tubes.
Performed as a surgical management of cancer, a lymphadenectomy is the surgical removal of one or more groups of lymph nodes.
Additional surgeries may be necessary if the cancer has spread into the abdominal walls or organs.
In addition to standard treatments and clinical trials, you may wish to add additional therapies and treatments such as massage therapy, acupuncture and art therapy. These therapies do not have curative intent, and are designed to complement standard treatments, not take their place.
Integrative Medicine and Wellness Programs
At Penn, our integrative medicine and wellness services can supplement traditional cancer treatments such as chemotherapy, surgery and radiation therapy. While conventional medicine plays a critical role in eradicating cancer, integrative medicine and wellness programs offer you ways to enhance the quality of your life, minimize or reduce the side effects of cancer and cancer treatment, and promote healing and recovery.
Our cancer specialists are knowledgeable and supportive of complementary cancer treatments. Our cancer team works with you and your family to integrate these supportive programs into the overall care plan, while ensuring your health and safety.
The Abramson Cancer Center's range of integrative supportive services is designed to help you cope with the cancer experience and improve your overall sense of well-being.
Joan Karnell Supportive Services at Pennsylvania Hospital offers an extensive variety of supportive care programs for patients and families, from diagnosis through survivorship. These programs are available at no cost to the patients treated at Pennsylvania Hospital, and some are open to patients treated elsewhere. These services include social work counseling, nutrition counseling, psychological counseling and spiritual counseling.
The Cancer Appetite and Rehabilitation Clinic focuses on patients with loss of appetite and weight.
The Supportive Oncology Clinic helps to manage cancer related symptoms. Integrative support programs include:
Palliative care provides medical and non-medical interventions to ease the symptoms of cancer and its treatment. Palliative care includes physical, emotional and spiritual care that can enhance the quality of life for cancer patients. Palliative care can be used to complement traditional cancer therapies, or can be used when curative therapies are no longer an option to treat symptoms and improve quality of life.
Palliative care is an approach to patient care that can be integrated with curative therapies at any point from diagnosis to survivorship or end of life care. Palliative care services include palliative chemotherapy, radiation therapy and surgery as well as psychological counseling, art therapy and support groups for patients and families.
Penn Home Care and Hospice Services
Penn Medicine offers a full range of “at home” health care services, including specialized therapies and medications, for patients with cancer and cancer-related conditions.
Learn more about Penn Medicine at Home