How is ovarian cancer treated?

machine chemo iv drip

Surgery: Surgery involves an operation to remove the cancer cells. Ovarian cancer surgery can be done in different ways. Read more about ovarian cancer surgery.

Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy is a treatment using drugs to kill cancer cells. You may have a single drug or a combination of different chemotherapy drugs. The drugs are usually given into your bloodstream but some may be tablets. Chemotherapy can also be given directly into your tummy (abdomen) through a small tube (intraperitoneal chemotherapy). These drugs can destroy or control cancer in your abdomen and pelvis. 

Your doctor or nurse will discuss your treatment with you. Read more about chemotherapy and its side-effects. You can also read our booklet: Understanding chemotherapy and other drug treatments.

Targeted therapies: These drugs target cancer cells in different ways to destroy them or stop them from growing. They may be given along with chemotherapy. You might also have a targeted therapy as part of a clinical trial. Read more about targeted therapies.

External radiotherapy: Radiotherapy is not a common treatment for ovarian cancer. You may be given radiotherapy occasionally after surgery. It can also be used to help relieve symptoms in patients with more advanced disease. This involves using high energy rays to kill cancer cells.

Radiotherapy may be used along with chemotherapy and surgery to treat your cancer. The treatment may be as short as one session or continue for several weeks, depending on the stage of ovarian cancer. 

Radiation can be given to your whole abdomen. But more often it's given to your pelvic area to control or relieve any symptoms you may have. This could include any pain, discomfort or bleeding if the cancer comes back after having been treated. 

Read more about radiotherapy

Will I get side-effects?

The type of side-effects you get will depend on the type of treatment, the dose, the duration and your own general health. Your doctor or nurse will discuss any possible side-effects with you before your treatment. 

We have more information about cancer side-effects and tips to cope. 

Treating metastatic cancer

Metastatic cancer means the cancer has spread to other parts of the body. 

If you have metastatic cancer, your doctor will aim to slow down the growth of the cancer and reduce or relieve any symptoms you have. Treatment includes surgery, chemotherapy ,targeted therapy and radiotherapy. Or you may be suitable for a clinical trial. 

Read more about metastatic cancer

Understanding Chemotherapy and other cancer drugs booklet
Understanding Chemotherapy and other cancer drugs booklet
This booklet is for cancer patients to help them understand more about chemotherapy, targeted therapies and immunotherapies.

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