Ovarian cancer treatment options and recommendations depend on several factors, including the type, stage, and grade of the cancer, possible side effects, age, preferences, and overall health. Options for treatment may differ based on personal plans, like having children in the future. You and your gynecologic oncologist can work together to develop a treatment plan that meets your medical and personal needs.
Ovarian cancer treatment may include one or a combination of the following treatment types:
Surgery is almost always part of the ovarian cancer treatment process. It may already be complete by the time you see a gynecologic oncologist. However, if it is not, the cancer specialist treating you can perform this surgery. In most cases, minimally invasive surgery is used. The gynecologist oncologists at Affiliated Oncologists are trained in the DaVinci Robotic Surgical System, which allows them to perform highly precise surgery that’s also minimally invasive. With this type of surgery, recovery is faster, and hospital stays are shorter.
Surgery may also be needed if the cancer has spread. The surgeon removes as much cancer as possible from other areas of the body. This is called “debulking” surgery.
If you have early Stage I ovarian cancer, the extent of surgery may depend on whether you want to get pregnant and have children. Some women with very early ovarian cancer may decide with their doctor to have only one ovary, one fallopian tube, and the omentum removed.
Medical Oncology Treatments for Ovarian Cancer
Medication may be given through the bloodstream to reach cancer cells throughout the body. This method is called systemic therapy. Medication may also be given locally. This is when they are applied directly to the cancer or kept in a single part of the body. Therapies that use medication include chemotherapy, targeted therapy, and sometimes hormone therapy.
Chemotherapy uses anticancer drugs to kill cancer cells. Most women have chemotherapy for ovarian cancer after surgery (adjuvant chemotherapy). Some women have chemotherapy before surgery (neoadjuvant chemotherapy).
Usually, more than one drug is given. Drugs for ovarian cancer can be given in different ways:
By vein (IV): The drugs can be given through a thin tube inserted into a vein.
By vein and directly into the abdomen: Some women get IV chemotherapy along with intraperitoneal (IP) chemotherapy. For IP chemotherapy, the drugs are given through a thin tube inserted into the abdomen.
Chemotherapy is given in cycles. Each treatment period is followed by a rest period. The length of the rest period and the number of cycles depend on the anticancer drugs used.
These treatments are usually given at one of our cancer centers in the South Chicago suburbs. Intraperitoneal chemo may require a stay in the hospital during treatment.
Targeted Therapy for Ovarian Cancer
Targeted therapy is a type of treatment that uses drugs or other substances to identify and attack specific cancer cells rather than all cells, like traditional chemotherapy. Because this treatment specifically seeks out cancer cells, it limits damage to healthy cells.
While each type of targeted therapy works differently, they all alter the way cancer cells grow, divide, repair, and interact with other cells.
Monoclonal antibodies are immune system proteins made in the laboratory to treat many diseases, including cancer. Bevacizumab is a monoclonal antibody that may be used with chemotherapy to treat ovarian epithelial cancer, fallopian tube cancer, or primary peritoneal cancer that has recurred.
Poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase inhibitors (PARP inhibitors) are targeted therapy drugs that block DNA repair and may cause cancer cells to die. PARP inhibitor therapy is being studied to treat ovarian epithelial cancer after chemotherapy. Veliparib is a PARP inhibitor that is being studied in combination with chemotherapy to treat advanced ovarian cancer.
Anti-angiogenesis inhibitors block the action of a protein called vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). Bevacizumab, an antibody that binds VEGF and prevents it from being active, has been shown to be effective in treating ovarian tube cancer. It may be used in combination with chemotherapy to treat late-stage cancer.
Therapies may be used in different combinations depending on the cancer stage and the patient's health. Targeted therapy may be prescribed as oral pills or administered intravenously.
Hormone therapy, also called endocrine therapy, may be used to treat some low-grade serous tumors if they come back or recur. Hormone therapy drugs include tamoxifen (Soltamox) and aromatase inhibitors, such as letrozole (Femara), anastrozole (Arimidex), and exemestane (Aromasin). This is more commonly used in stromal ovarian cancer rather than epithelial.
Ovarian Cancer Radiation Therapy
Radiation therapy is rarely used in the initial treatment of ovarian cancer, but it may be used to relieve pain and other problems caused by the disease. The most common type of radiation treatment is called external-beam radiation therapy, which is given from a machine outside the body. When radiation treatment is given using implants, it is called internal radiation therapy or brachytherapy.
The treatment is given at one of our cancer centers in the South Chicago suburbs.Find a Radiation Oncologist
The Latest Ovarian Cancer Treatments in the South Chicago Area
If you have been diagnosed with ovarian cancer, the gynecologic oncologists at Affiliated Oncologists work with you to recommend a treatment plan specific to your needs using the latest treatments available. We have cancer centers in the South Chicago suburbs, including Downers Grove and Oak Lawn, IL. We also provide second opinions on diagnosis and treatment plans for ovarian cancer.