There are a number of ways of treating ovarian cancer, and new methods are emerging all the time. Your treatment will depend on your individual circumstances, but will possibly include surgery to remove the tumour and chemotherapy to kill the cells that are dividing uncontrollably.
In most cases, surgery is needed. A specially qualified surgeon (a Gynae-oncologist) should do this operation, which is called a staging laparotomy. Laparotomy means to operate on the abdomen. The surgeon will take samples from around your abdomen and send them to a laboratory to find out how far the cancer has spread.
The aim of the operation is to remove as much of the tumour as possible, but cause as little damage as possible to your surrounding organs. Sometimes it is not possible to remove all the tumour. Where possible, the surgeon will do a hysterectomy (remove your womb) and a
salpingo-oophorectomy (remove your ovaries and fallopian tubes).
Your surgeon will discuss your operation and give you the chance to ask as many questions as you want to. You will be asked to sign a consent form to give your permission for the operation.
Many surgeons prefer to do the operation first.
However, in some cases it is better to try and reduce the size of the tumour with chemotherapy (neoadjuvant chemotherapy) and operate later (the procedure is called interval debulking when surgery is done following chemotherapy). You should discuss any advantages and disadvantages of this option with your surgeon.
If you are a younger woman and the cancer is at an early stage, your surgeon may try to adapt the operation so that you may still be able to have a baby.
After surgery you are likely to be in hospital for about a week and you will have to take it easy at home for several weeks. You should avoid lifting and driving for four to six weeks.