Ovarian Cancer Treatments

Ovarian cancer treatment options

Your ovarian cancer is every bit as unique as you are, and that is why City of Hope’s ovarian cancer program is focused around you and your loved ones.

This means our physicians will personally consult with you about your disease, treatment options and desired outcomes. Afterward, our multidisciplinary team of specialists will work together to discuss, design and deliver an individual treatment plan to best meet those goals.

Our ovarian cancer treatment highlights include:

  • Cytoreductive (debulking) surgery with heated intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC), which extensively removes cancerous tissue followed by applying cancer-fighting drugs directly into the abdominal and pelvic area, increasing its effectiveness in killing any remaining cancer cells
  • Pelvic floor reconstruction procedures that can restore continence and reduce discomfort
  • Image-guided radiation delivery systems that can accurately target radiation to tumor sites while minimizing exposure in normal, healthy tissues
  • Fertility-preserving options for patients who wish to have children after cancer treatment
  • Innovative ovarian cancer clinical trials with treatments that may be more effective and less toxic, including cancer-fighting viruses, immunity-boosting vaccine therapies and drugs that can overcome the cancer’s defense mechanisms

Learn more about our ovarian cancer treatment options below:

Surgery

Surgery is a primary treatment option for most ovarian cancer patients. The extensiveness of the operation depends on the patient’s health and how far the cancer has spread.

In addition to removing as much tumor tissue as possible, surgery is also used to help determine the ovarian cancer’s stage. This information is used to guide future treatments, depending on how early or advanced the disease is.

Our gynecologic oncology team are recognized leaders in surgical approaches to ovarian cancers. Our expertise include:

  • Cytoreductive (debulking) surgeries to remove as much tumor as possible from the pelvic and abdominal areas, improving outcomes and reducing likelihood of recurrence
  • Coordination with other surgical specialties (including urologic, thoracic, hepatobiliary and neurosurgeons) who can expertly remove secondary tumors in other parts of the body — sometimes in the same operation as the primary tumor removal
  • Fertility-sparing surgery for early stage germ cell or stromal tumors confined to one ovary, preserving the patient’s ability to have children
  • HIPEC - Heated intraoperative peritoneal chemotherapy , where the surgeon helps deliver and circulate cancer-fighting drugs in the abdominal cavity immediately after surgery. The direct application of heated chemotherapy can help kill more cancer cells than chemotherapy delivered orally or intravenously.
  • Pelvic floor reconstruction procedures that can treat bladder, bowel or sexual symptoms associated with gynecologic surgeries. Sometimes, these procedures can be performed in the same operation as the cancer removal surgery.
  • For patients who have a high ovarian cancer risk (such as BRCA gene mutation carriers), City of Hope also offers risk-reducing surgery (typically a bilateral oophorectomy to remove both ovaries) that can greatly lower a woman’s likelihood of developing ovarian cancer.

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Drug Therapy

Drug therapy may be given to patients to fight ovarian cancer cells throughout the body by killing the cancer cells or stopping their growth and spread. These drugs include:

  • Chemotherapy, which targets rapidly-dividing cells, including ovarian cancer cells
  • Targeted therapy, which selectively attacks cancer cells based on specific characteristics
  • Immunotherapy, which stimulates the patient’s own immune system to attack the cancer cells

The drug or drug combination used depends on the type and stage of ovarian cancer, previous treatments used, the patient’s health and overall treatment goals. This personalized medicine approach may be further enhanced by molecular or genetic testing of your cancer, which can help identify treatments that are more effective and with fewer side effects.

City of Hope is a leader in HIPEC, intraperitoneal chemotherapy or hyperthermic intraoperative peritoneal chemotherapy delivery, which allows doctors to deliver a more concentrated dose of cancer-fighting drugs directly into the abdominal cavity, increasing its effectiveness.

In addition to standard drug treatments, patients may also be eligible for new, promising drugs through our clinical trials program.

Hormone Therapy

For hormone-sensitive ovarian cancers — usually ovarian stromal tumors — hormone therapies can fight cancer by blocking the hormones that fuel their growth. For ovarian cancers, these drugs typically block the production or action of estrogen, and may include:

  • Luteinizing-hormone-releasing hormone agonists, which block estrogen production in the ovaries
  • Selective estrogen receptor modulators, which inhibits estrogen activity in the body
  • Aromatase inhibitors, which prevent the conversion of other hormones into estrogen

Based on the disease characteristics and patient’s health, City of Hope doctors can prescribe a hormone therapy regimen that is most effective against ovarian cancer while minimizing potential side effects.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy uses high-energy X-rays or other forms of radiation to kill cancer cells. It may be delivered externally using focused beams of energy, or internally, placing an energy emitting substance in or near the tumor site.

City of Hope is a leader in image-driven radiation planning, using computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging scans to determine tumor size and location. This ensures radiation is accurately delivered to the tumor site, while minimizing exposure to nearby normal tissues.

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