Treatment

There are a number of ways of treating ovarian cancer, and new approaches are emerging all the time. Your treatment will depend on your individual circumstances, but will usually include surgery and chemotherapy. NICE – the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence – is a part of the NHS that produces guidance on the use of medicines, including the circumstances in which they should be used. It was set up to ensure that women receive consistently high quality treatment.

Treating ovarian cancer

Cancer is a disease in which mechanisms that ensure new cells appear at the same rate that old cells die, have broken down. Cells continue to divide without control leading to an over population in one part of the body. This is what causes tumours.

Treatments for ovarian cancer are surgery to remove the tumour and chemotherapy to kill the cells that are dividing uncontrollably. Other treatments cut off the cancer’s blood supply, or stop hormones reaching the tumour.

Chemotherapy has been used to treat ovarian cancer for many years and platinum based drugs – cisplatin and carboplatin – are the drugs most widely used. Tumours usually respond to this form of treatment but often eventually return.

NICE recommends that if you have stage 1 ovarian cancer with a risk of it returning you are offered Carboplatin. In more advanced cancer, you will be offered Taxol as well.

The choice of the treatment should be made after discussion between you and your oncologist (doctor specialising in treating cancer) about the potential risks and benefits of the two treatments.

That discussion should cover how effective the treatment is, side effects, the stage of disease, extent of the surgery and your general well being.

Last review April 2016
Date of next review April 2018

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