Ovarian Cancer Treatment
Personalized treatment options for ovarian cancer are tailored to your diagnosis.
Each woman is unique, and ovarian cancer can have unique characteristics based on a woman’s genes. At Henry Ford, we use advanced technology and the best approaches to manage your ovarian cancer diagnosis. Our tumor board meets weekly to discuss your case and develop a personalized treatment plan for you.
Our team will meet with you to go over your treatment options, which may include:
- Hormone therapy
- Radiation therapy
- Clinical trials
Advanced and minimally invasive surgery
The most important step in treating ovarian cancer is often surgery. Whenever possible, our surgeons perform minimally invasive surgery by making small incisions instead of large ones. This provides the same benefits and leads to faster recovery and less discomfort.
During surgery, the ovaries, uterus, and fallopian tubes may be removed. The fatty layer of tissue covering the abdomen may be removed also. Biopsies may be taken from the lymph nodes in the pelvis and abdomen.
Surgery may be performed in one of these three ways:
- Abdominal hysterectomy (may include removal of one or both ovaries) is performed in certain cases, and it requires making an incision in the abdomen to remove cancerous tissue and organs.
- Laparoscopic-assisted hysterectomy is done by making small incisions in the abdomen area. Inside the vagina, incisions will be made to detach part of the cervix and uterus. They will be removed through the vaginal opening.
- Robot-assisted hysterectomy involves placing surgical tools through a small incision in the abdominal area. The surgeon uses a device to control the tools as he watches a monitor with 3D images.
We use special technologies to vaporize the tumor and remove any tumor cells that we find during surgery. If ovarian cancer has spread, your surgeon may remove the lymph nodes in the spleen, the bowel diaphragm, and binding tissues in the abdomen.
Chemotherapy uses drugs to damage or destroy cancer cells. Our ovarian cancer team includes medical oncologists, physicians who specialize in the administration of chemotherapy. They will work closely with you to customize the most appropriate treatment, which may include:
- Adjuvant chemotherapy is often given after surgery. This chemotherapy is used to kill any remaining cancer cells that may have spread or weren’t seen during surgery. In many cases, it can reduce the risk of new cancerous tumors.
- Neoadjuvant chemotherapy may be given before surgery in some cases. It may be used to shrink large tumors, so less extensive surgery will be required. This type of chemotherapy can decrease the risk of the cancer returning. It can kill cancer cells that are unseen because they have moved away from the original tumor site.
- Hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC) is an aggressive treatment used when certain cancers spread to the lining of the abdomen. During surgery to remove the cancerous tumor, a high concentration of heated chemotherapy is delivered directly to the abdomen.
Hormone therapy may be used to fight some forms of ovarian cancer, such as stromal tumors. These are rare tumors that grow from the cells that hold the ovary together and cells that produce hormones.
For ovarian cancer that has spread, or metastasized, sometimes radiation therapy may be used. Henry Ford is a world leader in new approaches to radiation therapy and the fast-developing field of radiosurgery, a type of radiation that uses precise, advanced technology to deliver higher doses of radiation in fewer sessions.
Radiation therapy options for ovarian cancer include:
- MRI-guided radiation therapy, known as ViewRay MRIdian Linac, provides precise and accurate radiation treatment. To help protect healthy tissue near cancer cells, imaging is done at the same time radiation treatment is done. This allows physicians to accurately target the cancer cells and use a strong dose of radiation to kill the cancer.
- External beam radiation therapy is a painless procedure, similar to getting an x-ray. For cancer, strong radiation is focused on the tumor site for a few minutes.
- Internal radiation, called brachytherapy, is rarely done for ovarian cancer. The treatment involves placing a device with radioactive seeds inside the body and aiming radiation beams on it to kill cancer cells.
Medical research, known as clinical trials, is constantly being done to find better ways of treating cancer. If you are newly diagnosed with ovarian cancer or have resistant or recurring ovarian cancer, a clinical trial may be available for you.
At Henry Ford, our research nurse may be able to help you find a clinical trial for a new drug or treatment approach that meets your needs.