At UCHealth, treatment and recovery includes both treatment to control the disease as well as supportive therapy to improve your quality of life.
A typical plan includes drug therapy, such as targeted therapy and/or chemotherapy, with or without steroids. You may also need other types of treatments, such as radiation therapy and surgery.
Possible treatments include:
- Chemotherapy. Drugs that destroy cancer cells, usually by stopping the cancer cells’ ability to grow and divide. We often use more than one drug at a time for maximum results.
- Targeted therapy or novel therapy. Drugs that target the cancer’s specific genes, proteins, or the tissue environment that contributes to cancer growth and survival. In recent years, targeted therapy has proven to be increasingly successful at controlling myeloma and improving a prognosis.
- Immunotherapy or biologic therapy. Uses materials made either by the body or in a laboratory to improve, target, or restore immune system function.
- Other drug therapy. We may give steroids alone or at the same time as targeted therapy or chemotherapy.
- Radiation therapy. High-energy X-rays or other particles that destroy cancer cells.
Surgery is the main treatment for most ovarian cancers. How much surgery you have depends on the type, how far it has spread and on your general health. For women of childbearing age who have certain kinds of tumors and whose cancer is in the earliest stage, it may be possible to treat the disease without removing both ovaries and the uterus.
Surgery for epithelial ovarian cancer. For epithelial ovarian cancer, surgery has two main goals: staging and debulking, which is removing as much of the tumor as possible. Debulking is very important when ovarian cancer has already spread throughout the abdomen at the time of surgery. The aim of debulking surgery is to leave behind no visible cancer or no tumors larger than one cm (less than 1/2 an inch). Sometimes the surgeon will also need to remove a piece of colon, small intestine, bladder, spleen and/or gall bladder, stomach, liver or pancreas.
Surgery for ovarian germ cell tumors and ovarian stromal tumors. We treat most ovarian germ cell tumors with a hysterectomy and bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy. If the cancer is in only one ovary and you still want to be able to have children, we remove only the ovary containing the cancer and the fallopian tube on the same side, leaving behind the other ovary and fallopian tube and the uterus. Ovarian stromal tumors are often confined to just one ovary, so surgery may just remove that ovary. If the cancer has spread, more tissue may need to be removed. This could mean a hysterectomy and bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy and even debulking surgery.