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Ovarian cancer

Ovarian cancer treatment options

Treatment for ovarian cancer typically depends on many factors, including the type and stage of the cancer, the potential side effects, and the woman’s age and whether she is planning to have children in the future. Surgery is often the first treatment recommended for ovarian cancer, and may involve the removal of the ovaries and fallopian tubes, the uterus, lymph nodes in the area, and the surrounding organs and tissue. Chemotherapy is usually recommended after surgery.

Chemotherapy

Our gynecologic oncologists treat ovarian cancer with a comprehensive and personalized approach, which may include using various chemotherapy drug combinations. These chemotherapy drugs are often identified with the use of advanced genomic testing.

We also choose methods that are designed to deliver high doses of chemotherapy to tumors, while reducing damage to the rest of your body. To treat ovarian cancer, chemotherapy is typically given:

  • Orally, by mouth
  • Intravenously, through a vein
  • Directly into the abdomen through a catheter directly targeting the ovaries and abdominal area with a higher concentration of chemotherapy drugs, while limiting the amount that reaches the rest of the body

Hormone therapy

Hormone therapy is designed to deprive ovarian cancer cells of the hormones they need to grow, including estrogen. Hormone therapy for ovarian cancer is often used in conjunction with chemotherapy and other therapies. A common regimen of hormone therapy for ovarian cancer patients involves a combination of drugs to lower estrogen levels in the body. In some cases, hormone therapy may be used to increase progesterone levels, which may prevent cancer cells from growing.

Ovarian cortex cryopreservation

Ovarian cortex cryopreservation involves freezing ovarian tissue before cancer treatment so women may be able to have children later. Fertility preservation is a common concern for young women diagnosed with cancer, particularly women diagnosed with cancer affecting their reproductive system. In some cases, surgery to remove the cancer may require removal of the ovaries, fallopian tubes, cervix or uterus. Even without surgery, treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy may damage these organs.

Ovarian cortex cryopreservation may offer women the chance to have children after treatment if other assisted reproductive technologies are not ideal for their situation.

Surgery

The first line in the treatment and diagnosis of ovarian cancer at Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA) is often surgery. Our goal during ovarian cancer surgery is to locate and remove visible signs of cancer in a process called debulking. 

Learn more about surgery for ovarian cancer

Targeted therapy

PARP inhibitors are a form of targeted therapy used to treat ovarian cancer. Designed to block the enzyme poly ADP-ribose polymerase (PARP) from identifying damaged DNA inside cancer cells, PARP inhibitors may stop cancer cells from repairing themselves.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved certain PARP inhibitor drugs to treat ovarian cancer.