The newest treatments to become available for ovarian cancer are maintenance therapies. These drugs can increase the time between recurrences of the cancer.  

Targeted therapies which act on the DNA of the cancer itself are PARP inhibitors such as olaparib, niraparib and rucaparib.To be eligible for PARP inhibitors, you need to have high grade serous ovarian, fallopian tube or primary peritoneal cancer, and have responded to your most recent platinum chemotherapy.

Olaparib can be used by women whose cancer carries the BRCA gene mutation.  Niraparib and rucaparib can also be used by these women in England for relapsed disease, as well as others who do not have the BRCA mutation. With the exception of olaparib as third line treatment for women with the BRCA mutation, these treatments are accessed via the Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF)in England. 

In Scotland, olaparib is available for women with the BRCA mutation and niraparib is available for relapsed ovarian cancer for those without the BRCA mutation.

Avastin (bevacizumab) is a targeted therapy that interferes with the cancer’s blood supply.  It is not routinely available in England, but your oncologist may be able to apply for you to access it, or you may have to pay or use health insurance. In Scotland it is available for relapsed, platinum resistant ovarian cancer. 

Immune therapies are currently being researched.  These are drugs that use the immune system to resist ovarian cancer.  Although not currently licenced for ovarian cancer, this treatment may be available through clinical trials.

Some women with ovarian cancer can benefit from further surgery if their cancer recurs.  A clinical trial called DESKTOP 3 reported in 2017 that women who met strict criteria benefitted from a second operation.  These women had all visible signs of disease removed at their first surgery, had their cancer return more than six months after their first-line treatment, did not have ascites (fluid in the abdomen) and were physically well.

Treatment for ovarian cancer depends on the cancer type, how far it has spread and your own individual circumstances.  For further information you can call Ovacome’s free support line on 0800 008 7054.


Last updated March 2020. Due for review March 2022.