Ovarian cancer

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Treatment of ovarian cancer

Treatment for ovarian cancer is given by cancer specialists (oncologists). Some specialize in surgery, some in radiation therapy and others in chemotherapy (drugs). These doctors work with the person with cancer to decide on a treatment plan.

Treatment plans are designed to meet the unique needs of each person with cancer. Treatment decisions for ovarian cancer are based on:

  • stage
  • grade
  • type of tumour
  • whether or not the woman wants to have children in the future

Treatment options for ovarian cancer

  • surgery
    • When possible, surgery is the primary treatment for all stages and types of ovarian cancer.
    • Surgery is used to stage all types of ovarian cancer.
    • A total hysterectomy and bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy is the most common surgery. This operation removes the ovaries, Fallopian tubes, uterus, cervix, nearby lymph nodes and omentum. A salpingo-oophorectomy may be unilateral (removing the ovary and Fallopian tube on one side) or bilateral (removing both ovaries and Fallopian tubes).
    • Surgical debulking is done to remove as much of the tumour as possible from the abdomen when the ovarian cancer has spread.
    • A cystectomy removes a cyst.
    • Some surgical procedures may be done to relieve symptoms of advanced ovarian cancer.
  • chemotherapy
    • Chemotherapy is offered after surgery for most types and stages of ovarian cancer.
    • Chemotherapy is also given to relieve pain or to control the symptoms of advanced ovarian cancer (palliative chemotherapy).
  • radiation therapy
    • Radiation therapy is not commonly used to treat ovarian cancer.
    • It may be used after surgery for some women who cannot have chemotherapy because of age or serious health conditions.
    • It may also be used to relieve pain or to control the symptoms of advanced ovarian cancer (palliative radiation therapy).
  • hormonal therapy
    • Some women with borderline malignancy ovarian cancer and stromal ovarian cancer may receive hormonal therapy.
  • follow-up after treatment is finished
    • It is important to have regular follow-up visits, especially in the first 5 years after treatment.

Clinical trials

Clinical trials investigate new and better ways to prevent, detect and treat cancer. There are some clinical trials in Canada that are open to women with ovarian cancer. For more information, go to clinical trials.

See a list of questions to ask your doctor about treatment


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