A specific treatment plan is devised for every patient and many aspects will be taken into account such as the type of ovarian cancer you have, how effective the treatment is, the side-effects, the stage of disease, the extent of the surgery and your general health. This will all be discussed with you by your oncologist before a decision is made as to what treatment you should have.
The treatment of all cancers, including ovarian cancer, is changing as more is learned about how cancer develops. New and improved treatments are identified through clinical trials. If there is a clinical trial available for which you may be eligible your oncologist will discuss this option with you.
Clinical trials for women with ovarian cancer have shown benefit from adding ‘targeted therapies’ such as bevacizumab to standard chemotherapy in some situations and if appropriate your oncologist may discuss this with you.
In most cases, you will be advised to have chemotherapy, either in advance of surgery (neoadjuvant chemotherapy) or to kill any cancer cells left after surgery (adjuvant chemotherapy). Chemotherapy is the name for drugs that kill cancer cells. A doctor called a Medical Oncologist prescribes it. There are many different types of chemotherapy and your oncologist will discuss the various options with you to help select the best treatment for you.
Chemotherapy has been used to treat ovarian cancer for many years and platinum-based drugs - cisplatin and carboplatin - are the drugs most widely used. They are usually given in combination with a drug called paclitaxel.
Most chemotherapies for ovarian cancer are given as an intravenous treatment (using a small tube into your vein) in the Oncology Day ward in your hospital. The most commonly used chemotherapy regimen (carboplatin and paclitaxel) is given once every 3 weeks.
Each treatment is followed by a rest period to allow you to recover from side effects. Each 3 week period is called a cycle of treatment. You normally have about 6 cycles in all. The side effects of different chemotherapies vary and you can discuss this with your oncologist.