Ovarian cancer

Ovarian cancer overview

If you have ovarian cancer, your outcomes will be better if you are treated by a gynecologic oncologist right from the beginning.

Seattle Cancer Care Alliance has more gynecologic oncologists than any other medical center or clinic in the Pacific Northwest. They treat all types of gynecologic cancer, including cervical, endometrial, ovarian, and vulvar cancers, uterine sarcoma, and gestational trophoblastic disease.

Gynecologic oncologist A physician who has special training in diagnosing and treating cancers of the female reproductive organs.

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Where you're treated first matters most

The most important decision a person with cancer will make is deciding where to get treated. Studies have shown that patients who begin their treatment at a top regional cancer center, like Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA), have better outcomes than those who start their treatment elsewhere. And here’s why:

  • Expert care: SCCA doctors treat only cancer and specialize in specific cancer types, such as gynecologic cancer. They have a deep understanding of their specialty since they diagnose and treat thousands of cancer cases every year. This experience builds their expertise that makes better outcomes possible.
  • Newest treatments: Doctors at SCCA have access to all the latest developments and research in treating cancer. Your care comes from combined expertise of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, UW Medicine, and Seattle Children's. Newsweek ran an article that explores the difference between getting treated at a top cancer center and a local community hospital. The disparity in outcomes, in many cases, can be quite striking.

When your treatment is complete, we'll keep close watch on your health through our Women’s Wellness Clinic  where we provide wellness-focused follow-up care  focused on cancer treatment recovery.

What to expect

Women who have received a diagnosis of ovarian cancer will be seen at the Univeristy of Washington Medical Center, where you may also have follow-up and/or chemotherapy/radiation treatments, if necessary. Your doctor or patient care coordinator will clarify the location where you will receive your care.

Follow-up after treatment

At SCCA, we follow our patients for as long as they choose. Typically, you will come for checkups every three months for the first two years after your treatment for ovarian cancer. Women who reach the two-year mark without having a recurrence of their disease are less likely ever to have a recurrence and can be seen less often. From that point, we usually ask you to come in every six months for a checkup until five years have passed. After five years, an annual checkup is all that is recommended.

Our patients say that they find it reassuring to see the same doctors who treated them—experts in gynecologic cancers—for their follow-up visits.

Chemotherapy Treatment that uses drugs to stop the growth of cancer cells, either by killing the cells or by stopping them from dividing. It may be given alone or with other treatments. Treatment that uses drugs to stop the growth of cancer cells, either by killing the cells or by stopping them from dividing. Chemotherapy may be given by mouth, injection, infusion or on the skin, depending on the type and stage of the cancer being treated. It may be given alone or with other treatments, such as surgery, radiation therapy or biologic therapy. Recurrence Cancer that has come back, usually after a period during which it could not be detected. It may come back to the same place as the original (primary) tumor or someplace else. Also called recurrent cancer.

Treatment

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. 

Chemotherapy Treatment that uses drugs to stop the growth of cancer cells, either by killing the cells or by stopping them from dividing. It may be given alone or with other treatments. Treatment that uses drugs to stop the growth of cancer cells, either by killing the cells or by stopping them from dividing. Chemotherapy may be given by mouth, injection, infusion or on the skin, depending on the type and stage of the cancer being treated. It may be given alone or with other treatments, such as surgery, radiation therapy or biologic therapy. Side effects A problem that occurs when treatment affects healthy tissues or organs. Some side effects of cancer treatment are nausea, vomiting, fatigue, pain, decreased blood cell counts, hair loss and mouth sores.

Providers

At SCCA, you receive care from a team of providers with extensive experience in your disease. Your team includes physicians, a patient care coordinator, a registered nurse, an advanced practice provider and others, based on your needs. You also have access to experts like nutritionists, social workers, acupuncturists, psychiatrists and more who specialize in supporting people with cancer or blood disorders.

Clinical trials

Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA) was formed, in part, to bring promising new treatments to patients faster. For ovarian cancer patients, this means more treatment options at SCCA than you might find elsewhere, including the chance to participate in one of many ongoing clinical trials conducted at SCCA and its partner organizations, Fred Hutch and UW Medicine.

Prevention

The Breast and Ovarian Cancer Prevention (BOCP) Clinic at SCCA is for women with a very strong risk for breast cancer or ovarian cancer.

At this clinic, we provide a personalized approach to cancer risk assessment, prevention, and screening, including an evaluation and a discussion of your individual breast and ovarian cancer risk.

Screening Checking for disease when there are no symptoms. Because screening may find diseases at an early stage, there may be a better chance of curing the disease Checking for disease when there are no symptoms. Because screening may find diseases at an early stage, there may be a better chance of curing the disease. Examples of cancer screening tests are the mammogram (for breast cancer), colonoscopy (for colon cancer) and Pap and HPV tests (for cervical cancer). Screening can also include a genetic test to check for a person’s risk of developing an inherited disease.