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Treatments

  • Surgery

    Surgery can diagnose and stage ovarian cancer as well as treat it. Your surgeon removes tissue and examines it for signs of cancer. He or she may remove one or both ovaries and possibly surrounding tissue and lymph nodes, followed by post-operative chemotherapy. There are several approaches to ovarian cancer surgery:

    • Laparotomy: One option is to undergo a traditional open surgery through a relatively large incision in the abdomen, called a laparotomy.
    • Laparoscopy: Most patients at Sylvester qualify for a minimally invasive laparoscopy procedure that's executed through relatively smaller incisions in the abdomen. Sylvester surgeons are skilled at robotic laparoscopic surgery, through which they can explore the abdomen, evaluate the degree of the disease, drain fluid build-up in the area, and retrieve small samples of the abnormal tissue to perform a biopsy or remove a tumor.
    • Cytoreductive Surgery: In addition to removing the uterus and/or fallopian tubes and ovaries, an additional surgical procedure may be used to achieve full visible cancer removal. The procedure, called tumor debulking, or cytoreductive surgery, removes as much of the tumor as possible. It may be performed after chemotherapy or may be followed by chemotherapy or radiation.

  • Chemotherapy

    This is a combination of cancer-fighting drugs that are usually administered intravenously to kill any remaining cancer cells in the body.

  • Targeted therapy

    This approach uses drugs to identify and attack specific cancer cells without harming normal cells. Monoclonal antibody therapy is a type of targeted therapy in which the antibodies attach to the substances and kill the cancer cells, block growth, or keep the cells from spreading. Monoclonal antibodies are given intravenously alone or to carry drugs, toxins, or radioactive material directly to cancer cells. These treatments have the potential to be more effective and with fewer side effects than chemotherapy. Several of these targeted therapies have been approved by FDA.

    Targeted therapies also include:

    • o Poly (ADP-Ribose) Polymerase (PARP) Inhibitors: These are enzymes that slow cancer growth by helping prevent cancer cells from repairing themselves after chemotherapy. Drugs that inhibit PARP-1 help fight cancers caused by mutations in BRCA1 and BRCA2. The PARP inhibitor Alaparib is approved for women with BRCA mutations who have experienced a recurrence of ovarian cancer.
    • Antiangiogenesis Agents: These are agents that prevent the tumor from forming new blood vessels to feed it. Several are being studied in clinical trials.

  • Immunotherapy

    Called personalized medicine, immunotherapy uses your own tumor genetics to help your immune system T-Cells recognize the tumor cells as invaders and target them specifically. There are several different approaches to immunotherapy being studied.

    • Retrovirus Therapy: Scientists at Sylvester and Miller School of Medicine are developing an oncolytic retro-viral treatment for ovarian cancer to target specific mutations found on genetic analysis of tumor cells.
    • Checkpoint Blockade Therapy: This cancer treatment takes advantage of immune T-cells present in many tumors but have been shut off by cells through a checkpoint system that prevents immune cells from attacking them. These drugs disable that safety mechanism, which allows your immune T-cells to use their destructive capabilities on the tumors.

  • Palliative Care

    Palliative care focuses on relief from symptoms of serious illness and the side effects of treatment, incorporating you and your family as a unit to improve quality of life for the whole family. If starting early in the treatment process, palliative care can increase your tolerance to treatment and any side effects, improving treatment outcomes. Your specially-trained care team includes doctors, nurse practitioners, a social worker, and a chaplain who work alongside your surgical, radiation, or medical oncologist. You may contact them at (305) 243-4129.