Treatment Options

Treatment Options

Dr. Heidi Gray discusses treatment options for ovarian cancer.

Ovarian cancer is a serious disease, but a number of new and better drugs have become available for the treatment of this cancer over the past few years. In addition, we have new and more effective drugs to help control the side effects of cancer-fighting chemotherapy drugs.

If you have been diagnosed with ovarian cancer, you will want to know what your treatment options are. There are more than 30 types of ovarian cancer, but by far the most common is epithelial carcinoma, which begins on the surface of the ovary. The information below, while general, refers to treatment options for epithelial ovarian cancer.

When caught in the early stages, epithelial ovarian cancer can often be cured. If the disease has already advanced by the time of diagnosis, then the goal of treatment is to control the disease, or put it into remission, or a cancer-free period.

Even so, the majority (70 percent or better) of the women we treat for ovarian cancer can expect a complete response to their initial treatment. Unfortunately, relapse rates are high in advanced stage disease, so careful follow-up is needed following treatment for ovarian cancer. In addition, women who come to SCCA for treatment of ovarian cancer can expect a better quality of life while in cancer treatment than ever before.

You also will find a new attitude toward this disease: Your doctors will talk with you about "managing ovarian cancer as a chronic disease" in much the same way as a woman with congestive heart failure would manage her disease.

If you have been referred to SCCA for treatment, the common treatments are surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. In addition, the gynecologic oncologists at SCCA have access to the latest leading-edge clinical trials that are available in the United States for our patients.

Remember, each woman's cancer is different, as are her circumstances, preferences, and beliefs. A treatment that works well for another woman may not be right for you.

Team Approach

Gynecolgoic oncology is a unique cancer medical specialty in that the physicians who provide the surgical care are the same who provide the chemotherapy care following surgery. At SCCA, our team philosophy is to provider complete care that a woman with gynecologic cancer needs.   

Ovarian Cancer Surgery

Surgery is the standard treatment for ovarian cancer. Your doctors may recommend following your surgery with chemotherapy. Radiation therapy is not generally used to treat ovarian cancer, but it may be a useful treatment for a small minority of women with ovarian cancer.

Ovarian Cancer Chemotherapy

Most women treated at SCCA for ovarian cancer will receive chemotherapy after their surgery to kill any cancer cells remaining. Some women will be treated with chemotherapy but not surgery. Generally these women are in poor general health and not good candidates for surgery.

Recurrent Ovarian Cancer Treatment

If you have recurrent ovarian cancer, SCCA can offer you new medical procedures and treatments, as well as access to clinical trials, that your community doctor may not know about.