Ovarian Cancer Treatment
Expert care and the latest treatment options.
Your treatment begins with your doctor recommending a plan based on expert guidelines, called protocols. Your treatment is determined by:
- The type of tumor (serous, mucinous, endometrioid or clear cell)
- The location of the tumor (there are several types of ovarian cancer: fallopian tube, ovary and peritoneum, based on where the tumor starts)
- The extent of the disease, called the stage
- Any tests you have had during diagnosis
- A discussion about what is right for you
Cancer may just be in one ovary or may have spread into nearby areas. If so, it’s called local or early-stage cancer. If it has spread to distant parts of the body (such as your lungs, liver, or bones), it’s called metastatic or advanced ovarian cancer. It’s important that your treatment team learn as much as they can about the cancer.
You may have questions and concerns about your treatment options. You may also want to know how you’ll feel and function after treatment, and if you’ll have to change your normal activities. Your oncologist, or cancer specialist, is the best person to answer your questions. They can tell you what your treatment choices are, how well they’re expected to work, and what the risks and side effects are. Your healthcare provider may advise a specific treatment. Or you may be offered more than one, and asked to decide which one you’d like to use. It can be hard to make this decision. It's important to take the time you need to make the best decision.
Ovarian cancer treatment options
The standard treatment for ovarian cancer is a combination of surgery and chemotherapy.
Surgery. Most women with ovarian cancer will have surgery to remove as much of the tumor as possible. There are several types of surgery often used in treating ovarian cancer, including:
- Hysterectomy removes the uterus and sometimes the cervix. There are several different types, including a partial hysterectomy (when only the uterus is removed) or total hysterectomy (when the uterus and cervix are removed).
- Unilateral salpingo-oophorectomy removes one ovary and one fallopian tube.
- Bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy removes both ovaries and both fallopian tubes.
- Omentectomy removes the omentum, which is tissue surrounding the abdominal organs.
- Lymph node biopsy removes one or many lymph nodes to allow a pathologist to check for cancer cells.
Legacy Cancer Institute surgeons are trained in minimally invasive techniques, including robotic surgery. These methods may help you to recover more quickly from procedures such as hysterectomy.
Chemotherapy uses drugs that kill cancer cells. For ovarian cancer, chemotherapy may be used before or after surgery.
Radiation uses high-energy X-rays or other radiation to kill cancer cells or keep them from growing.
- External radiation uses a machine outside the body and aims radiation toward the cancer.
Targeted therapy uses drugs or other substances to find and attack cancer cells without damage to normal cells. There are several approaches:
Poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase inhibitors, or PARP inhibitors, block DNA repair and may help kill cancer cells.
Angiogenesis inhibitors work to prevent the growth of new blood vessels that feed tumors.
Immunotherapy uses the body’s own immune system to treat cancer (also called biologic therapy). Substances from the body or made in a lab are used to trigger an immune response. They boost, restore or direct your own natural defense against cancer.
Hormone therapy slows or stops the growth of cancer by blocking or interfering with hormones, which are chemical messengers that control bodily functions such as the reproductive system. Hormone therapy is given as a pill.
Talk to your doctor about these and other options for treating ovarian cancer. There may also be a clinical trial (research study) for which you are eligible. Researchers are discovering new therapies for treating cancer all the time, giving doctors new resources for your care.
Experts in treating ovarian cancer
Legacy Cancer Institute, located in Portland, OR, ranks among the nation’s best cancer programs. Our team features some of the region’s most recognized specialists who work together to diagnose and develop a personalized treatment plan for you. Find the right provider and treatment close to home.
Legacy Cancer Institute is accredited as an integrated network cancer program by the American College of surgeons Commission on Cancer (CoC). Learn more about our quality cancer care.
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Working together for you
Our cancer experts work together with a common goal: delivering the right care for you.
A range of specialists collaborate regularly in meetings called tumor boards to discuss the best plan for your care. Your treatment plan is made just for you, depending on your general health, your age, your particular cancer and its growth.
Legacy Health collaborates with the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute to advance cancer care in our region. By working together, you benefit from the strength of both leaders in cancer care. As an integrated community cancer program for adults, we make sure that you have access to the latest treatments, technology and research available.
What happens next
Many cancer treatments can cause challenging side effects. Your cancer team is dedicated to helping you manage these side effects in the best ways possible. Comfort care can treat symptoms to help improve your quality of life; this is also called palliative care.
To see how well your treatment is working, some of the tests used to diagnose and stage your cancer may be repeated. Your doctor uses these tests to decide whether to stop, change or continue treatment based on the results. These tests can also determine if cancer has returned. Whenever possible, we work to stop the growth of cancer and reduce the chance of cancer coming back.
You are not alone. Legacy offers support throughout your cancer journey, as well as care for your emotional, social and spiritual needs.