Ovarian Cancer Treatment Approaches

City of Hope uses a multidisciplinary approach to combat ovarian cancer. Our surgeons, medical and radiation oncologists and researchers collaborate closely throughout treatment to ensure ovarian cancer patients receive the best care possible.

Because ovarian cancer does not grow in a manner similar to most solid tumors, it is usually not possible for a surgeon to remove the entire tumor present in the abdomen. It has been shown, however, that removal of all visible manifestations of the tumor (often referred to as debulking surgery), followed by chemotherapy treatment, provides the best chance of a cure.

When applicable, our specialists utilize minimally invasive surgery with advanced technologies such as laparoscopy and the da Vinci S Surgical System with robotic capabilities that allows for greater precision.

These surgeries feature small incisions and potentially:

  • Less blood loss, pain and visible incisions;
  • Shorter hospital stay and recovery time;
  • Fewer complications and quicker return to normal activities.

Preventative Surgery

For women at high risk for developing cancer, we offer preventative surgery, called salpingo-oophorectomy, which involves the surgical removal of the ovaries and fallopian tubes. This procedure can reduce the chance of ovarian and related cancers by as much as 80 percent in women at high risk.

Radiation therapy is often used in treating ovarian cancer. It may be employed as a stand-alone treatment for early stage cancer, or in combination with surgery and other treatments in more advanced cases, to help reduce the chance of recurrence.

Radiation therapy uses high-energy X-rays or other types of radiation to kill cancer cells or keep them from growing. There are two types of radiation therapy. External radiation therapy uses a machine outside the body to send radiation toward the cancer. Internal radiation therapy uses a radioactive substance sealed in needles, seeds, wires or catheters that are placed directly into or near the cancer. The way the radiation therapy is given depends on the type and stage of the cancer being treated.

Intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT)

IMRT targets tumors with pencil-thin “beamlets” of radiation. By sculpting the radiation to precisely match the tumor’s contours, a higher dose can be delivered to the cancer while avoiding unnecessary exposure of healthy tissues. Treatment with IMRT may also minimize certain side effects.

Some women receive a treatment called intraperitoneal radiation therapy, in which radioactive liquid is put directly in the abdomen through a catheter.

Medicines that slow or stop the growth of cancer cells are often included in a patient’s treatment plan. We provide both standard therapy and access to clinical trials of new, leading-edge therapies that offer the best chance for a cure.

Intraperitoneal chemotherapy

City of Hope offers the latest breakthrough in chemotherapeutic treatment of advanced ovarian cancer, which results in improved survival rates over that seen following standard intravenous chemotherapy.

Optimal treatment of advanced ovarian cancer includes aggressive debulking surgery followed by chemotherapy. Recently, results were published from the third largest national clinical trial comparing administration of chemotherapy directly into the abdomen (intraperitoneal chemotherapy, or IP) with chemotherapy delivered through the veins. In support of two other large clinical trials, this trial confirmed that IP delivery of chemotherapy results in a 16-month improvement in median survival compared to patients receiving intravenous chemotherapy alone. The National Cancer Institute issued an alert to physicians that all women with regionally advanced ovarian cancer should be considered for this route of treatment following surgery.