Ovarian Cancer Treatments

Dr. Leen Alhoussan

September 20, 2022

Ovarian Cancer Treatments

Ovarian cancer treatments include surgery and chemotherapy, but other treatments can also be used. Some of these treatments include hormone treatments and targeted medicines. Patients will have regular checkups and may undergo tests and scans. You should consult a specialist if you notice any unusual symptoms or think you might have the disease. More surgery may be required to remove the affected organ if cancer has spread to other organs.

Stages of ovarian cancer

Treatments for ovarian cancer are based on the stage of cancer. Most ovarian cancers are staged using the TNM system (tumor, node, metastasis). The TNM system evaluates whether cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes, bones, or the liver. Therefore, the treatment approach is based on the stage and type of cancer.

Stage 1 cancer is confined to the ovaries and has not spread to nearby organs or lymph nodes. Patients with this type of cancer have the best chance of surviving. Stage 1C cancer is detected during surgery and found on the ovaries’ surface. Cancer may have spread to lymph nodes in the groin or abdomen.

Stages of ovarian cancer and treatments vary, depending on the type and stage. Medical practitioners use stages 1 to 4 to describe the extent of cancer spread. Usually, cancers in similar stages are treated the same way. For example, stage 1A cancer is confined to the ovary; stage 1B cancer is present in both ovaries; stage 4 cancer is in distant organs.


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Surgery for ovarian cancer is usually performed in combination with chemotherapy. The surgery removes the visible tumor tissue and lymph nodes around the cancer. In some cases, the surgeon may also remove the bowel. Chemotherapy may also be used to shrink larger tumors or to kill distant cancer cells. The drugs used in chemotherapy are given intravenously or orally. Hormone therapy is also a standard treatment for ovarian cancer. This involves drugs that block the hormones that cause cancer cells to grow. These include aromatase inhibitors and luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone agonists.


Chemotherapy is a standard treatment option for ovarian cancer. However, the exact type of chemotherapy used varies according to the stage of the disease and how long it has been since the first treatment. Common chemo drugs include carboplatin and paclitaxel. Sometimes these drugs are combined with other drugs for a more effective treatment.

Chemotherapy is given either as a stand-alone treatment or in combination with surgery. In addition, cancer may be treated with a targeted therapy drug, depending on the stage of the disease. Patients usually have one or more chemotherapy cycles over four to six weeks.

Chemotherapy for ovarian cancer can be given intravenously or intraperitoneally. Patients usually lie flat during IP chemotherapy. The chemotherapy may affect the kidneys, so the doctor monitors kidney function and checks blood electrolytes.

Radiation therapy

Radiation therapy for ovarian cancer is often used to control cancerous growths that have not responded to other treatments. This therapy is safe, effective, and has low radiation-related toxicity. The technique uses CT and MRI images to determine the target area and dose intensity pattern for radiation.

Radiation therapy is usually given in a hospital radiation department. The treatment can be performed daily for a couple of weeks or more. Depending on the cancer stage, treatment can be completed in a single session or divided into several shorter sessions. A doctor may use external beam radiation (EBR) as the first option for radiation therapy. This treatment is fast and painless and usually takes place five days a week. Patients may need a few rounds of radiation treatment, especially if the cancer is advanced. External beam radiotherapy is done with a linear accelerator, creating high-energy external radiation beams that penetrate the tissues and deliver the radiation dose to the cancer area. This modern radiation therapy is very effective and has a shallow risk of causing skin burns. Internal radiation therapy is also used and

The primary goal of radiation therapy for ovarian cancer is to reduce the disease’s symptoms while improving the patient’s quality of life. Although many people will benefit from palliative radiation therapy, the treatment is most effective when it can control cancerous growth. For example, if cancer has spread to the spinal cord or a nearby organ, the radiation dose should be as low as possible, while the dose should not cause damage to healthy tissue in the area.

Targeted therapies

Targeted therapies are medications that target specific genes and proteins in cancer cells to prevent them from growing and multiplying. They can be given as pills or intravenously. These drugs are available to some patients with advanced ovarian cancer. Their use largely depends on the cancer type and how well it responds to chemotherapy. Drugs approved for use on the NHS differ from one region to another, leading to variation in the available options.

New targeted therapies for ovarian cancer are currently being tested in clinical trials. It is essential to ask your doctor about clinical trials and whether they are suitable for you. As with any cancer treatment, there are risks involved. If you’re considering targeted therapy, consider these risks against the benefits.