Mayo Clinic doctors treat ovarian cancer, Fallopian tube cancer and peritoneal cancer using several approaches. Commonly, doctors perform surgery to remove cancerous tumors and determine the stage of your cancer. You'll likely receive surgery and chemotherapy, and occasionally you may receive radiation therapy. Other potential treatments being evaluated include immunotherapy, bone marrow transplant, gene therapy and hormone therapy.
- Laparotomy. Doctors perform laparotomy through a large abdominal incision, most often removing your ovaries, uterus, fallopian tubes, nearby lymph glands, a fold of fatty tissue called the omentum and as much of the tumor as possible. This process is known as surgical debulking or cytoreductive surgery.
- Frozen section tissue analysis. Mayo Clinic pioneered the frozen section technique, which allows for rapid analysis of your tissue under a microscope. Surgeons determine in minutes whether your tumor is noncancerous or cancerous, dramatically increasing their ability to perform the most appropriate procedure during the first surgery.
- Laparoscopy and robotic-assisted laparoscopy. Laparoscopy is a minimally invasive surgery that may be used depending on the extent of cancer present when your cancer is diagnosed. Researchers are studying this procedure with the goal of using it more frequently.
- Chemotherapy. After surgery, you will probably receive cancer-killing drugs (adjuvant chemotherapy). The standard approach combines two agents, a platinum-based drug (either carboplatin or cisplatin) and paclitaxel for approximately six cycles given three to four weeks apart. Mayo Clinic researchers helped establish this standard regimen.
Other chemotherapy drugs you may receive include alkylating agents, antimetabolites, antitumor antibiotics and DNA topoisomerase inhibitors. Because these medications work in different ways when used together, they can be more effective against tumors than when used alone. Mayo Clinic researchers are testing new ways to deliver chemotherapy and new treatment schedules (such as weekly rather than every three weeks) to determine the best way to treat your cancer while minimizing side effects.
Mayo Clinic researchers test potential new drugs through clinical trials. Your doctor will tell you if you're eligible to participate in a clinical trial.
- Radiation therapy. Radiation therapy uses high-energy X-rays to kill cancer cells. The use of radiation therapy to treat ovarian cancer has declined in recent years, but doctors use it in certain cases, such as when you have a recurrence of cancer at the original site or if you can't tolerate chemotherapy. Doctors may use whole abdominal radiation to treat ovarian cancer that remains or recurs in your abdomen. Mayo Clinic is one of a few medical centers offering this treatment.