What Are My Treatment Options?

Ovarian cancer can vary from person to person. Find out the different ways to treat this disease.

Not real patients.

Types of treatment


Surgery is the first course of treatment for most women with ovarian cancer. Surgery to remove as much of the cancerous tissue as possible is called debulking. Its purpose is to remove all of the cancer that can be seen. In most cases, surgery is followed by systemic chemotherapy.



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Chemotherapy is a drug that stops the growth of cancer cells, either by killing the cells or by stopping them from dividing. The drawback of chemotherapy is that it also kills healthy cells, resulting in harsh side effects.

Chemotherapy can be injected into a vein, injected into the abdomen through a catheter, or given by mouth. Ovarian cancer is usually treated with 2 or more types of drugs every 3 to 4 weeks.

Platinum-based chemotherapy

For ovarian cancer, 2 different groups of chemotherapeutic agents are often combined. The first group contains a platinum-based medicine and keeps the cell from reproducing by damaging its DNA.

Non–platinum-based chemotherapy

The second group of drugs is collectively called taxanes. These block cell growth by stopping cell division.


Radiation therapy

Radiation therapy uses high-energy X-rays to kill cancer cells. This type of treatment can be useful in areas where the cancer has spread. Although radiation therapy was used widely in the past, it is now rarely used as the main treatment for ovarian cancer.


Targeted therapy

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Targeted therapy uses drugs to attack parts of cancer cells that make them different from normal cells.

  • In healthy cells, DNA damage needs to be repaired for the cell to survive and function normally
  • DNA damage that is not repaired can lead to cell death, which can be a good thing in cancer cells
  • Cancer cells with a BRCA mutation have trouble repairing DNA damage
  • When someone with a BRCA mutation uses certain types of targeted therapy, the combined effect may contribute to an increase in DNA damage which may lead to cancer cell death.
  • This is why having a BRCA mutation could make you a candidate for this kind of medicine

Hormone therapy

Hormone therapy uses hormones or hormone-blocking drugs to kill cancer cells. This type of treatment stops the body from making certain hormones or stops the action of the hormones. It works by blocking hormones from working or lowering hormone levels to slow tumor growth.


Clinical trials

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Clinical trials provide the opportunity to study promising new treatments and procedures. These trials are meant to help doctors find better methods to treat cancer. If you’re interested in participating in a clinical trial, talk to your doctor or visit ClinicalTrials.gov. You can also contact the American Cancer Society at 1-800-303-5691, who will help you find a clinical trial that matches your needs.


Knowing your BRCA status has become an opportunity to potentially treat your unique disease with targeted therapy.