Targeted therapies are drugs that find and attack cancer cells by targeting a specific, unique feature of the cancer cell, such as an abnormal mutation or protein that isn’t found in normal, healthy cells. Some of these drugs are in the form of a pill, taken orally; others are delivered by intravenous (IV) infusion.
The targeted drugs used for ovarian cancer work in different ways, such as:
- Inhibiting cancer cells’ ability to grow new blood vessels to feed the tumor
- blocking the ability of cancer cells to repair themselves, allowing them to die
- Interrupting the signals that tells cells to grow and multiply
Approved targeted therapies for ovarian cancer include Bevacizumab, Olaparib and Rucaparib.
We also test ovarian cancer tumors to determine each cancer’s unique genetic profile. OmniSeq Comprehensive, a molecular test developed at Roswell Park, tests the tumor’s DNA and RNA to identify genetic alterations caused by the cancer, which are actionable, meaning there is a drug or anti-cancer agent available that targets that specific genetic mutation. This test looks at 144 potential mutations in all. Patients can then be matched with a targeted therapy or a clinical trial that offers a new agent that is personalized for their tumor’s genetic profile.
Some ovarian cancers rely on female hormones—estrogen and progesterone—to grow. Drugs that block the production or the activity of hormones can help lower the levels of these hormones in the body and slow cancer growth.
Hormone therapy is usually used only in women whose cancer has recurred, not for initial treatment.
- Aromatase inhibitors
- Leuprolide acetate
- Megestrole acetate
Radiation therapy is rarely used in the initial treatment of ovarian cancer, but it may be helpful in patients with bone or brain metastases to prevent fractures or brain swelling. Sometimes radiotherapy is used to relieve pain caused by a metastasis that impinges a nerve.