Ovarian Cancer Treatment

Ovarian cancer is considered a complex and aggressive cancer type for several reasons, including its usual late-stage at diagnosis, possible resistance to chemotherapy and high rate of recurrence. It’s important that your ovarian cancer treatment plan is developed by a team of experts, with high-volume experience and current knowledge of the latest therapies.

Your treatment may include:

  • Surgery (laparotomy, laparoscopic, or robot-assisted approaches) to remove as much visible tumor as possible. These surgical approaches are usually for patient with low-volume disease or an uncertain diagnosis.
  • Chemotherapy (IV and regional) to kill cancer cells in the body.
  • Targeted therapy to kill only the cancer cells by targeting cells in the body harbor a specific mutation or alteration.
  • Hormone therapy for recurrent disease.
  • Immunotherapy to stimulate your immune system to recognize and attack cancer cells.
  • Clinical trials or investigational treatments to benefit from the latest therapies, vaccines and other approaches to treating ovarian cancer and preventing recurrence.
  • Radiation therapy is rarely used in primary treatment for ovarian cancer. It may be used to relieve pain or other problems caused by the cancer.

We encourage you to review your treatment options carefully and ask questions of your care team until you feel confident in your decision.

Making an informed decision

As a comprehensive cancer center that’s designated by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) Roswell Park has treatments unavailable from other providers. We understand how this can be reassuring but also overwhelming. We are committed to providing you with the information you need to make an informed decision about your treatment.

Important points to consider as you evaluate your options:

  • Fertility and sexuality: Because treatment for ovarian cancer often involves the removal of reproductive organs, it is important to understand how this will impact your ability to have children as well as your sexual function. If you are concerned about these issues, Roswell Park’s Oncofertility Program can help you learn about what you can expect and the options you can take prior to treatment.
  • Side effects: Cancer treatments often damage healthy cells and tissues along with the cancer cells, so side effects are common. These side effects vary depending on the type and extent of treatment, and from one patient to the next. Knowing what to expect prior to treatment will allow you to be proactive in managing side effects or, taking quality of life into consideration, may also help you rule out particular treatment options.
  • Second opinion: Before starting treatment, you may want a second opinion about the diagnosis, the stage of cancer and the treatment plan. Some insurance companies require a second opinion; others may cover a second opinion if the woman requests it. Gathering medical records and arranging to see another doctor may take a little time. In most cases, a brief delay does not make treatment less effective.

Complementary care

Some cancer patients may find relief from disease symptoms or treatment side effects by incorporating complementary medicine. An approach is called complementary medicine when it is used along with standard cancer treatment. Acupuncture, massage therapy, herbal products, meditation, vitamins or special diets are all examples of complementary approaches.

It’s important to talk with your doctor if you are considering exposing yourself to anything new. Some items that seem safe, such as certain herbal teas, may change the way your cancer treatment works. They can impact your health and be potentially harmful. Others may be harmful even if used alone so be sure to ask your physician or care team prior to trying any type of complementary care.

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