How is ascites treated in ovarian cancer?

Updated: Aug 10, 2020
  • Author: Andrew E Green, MD; Chief Editor: Yukio Sonoda, MD  more...
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Answer

Ascites can result from widespread microscopic and macroscopic tumor infiltration over the peritoneum, preventing absorption of peritoneal fluid. This complication can become quite troubling when progressive disease is unresponsive to chemotherapy. Patients complain of pain, early satiety, vomiting, fatigue, and shortness of breath. Diuretics are of limited efficacy in relieving malignant ascites, and relief is best obtained by repetitive paracentesis.

Placement of a semipermanent drainage tube, Pleurx, has been FDA approved for symptomatic relief in patients with recurrent ascites. The eventual metabolic impact is depletion of albumin. However, the immediate temporary improvement in patient comfort usually takes precedence over long-term nutritional status for a patient who is terminally ill.


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