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Ovarian cancer forms in the tissues of the ovary (one of a pair of female reproductive glands in which the ova, or eggs, are formed). Most ovarian cancers are either ovarian epithelial carcinomas (cancer that begins in the cells on the surface of the ovary) or malignant germ cell tumors (cancer that begins in egg cells). Cancerous ovarian tumors can also begin in stromal cells, which release hormones and connect the different structures of the ovaries, though this is less common.
The main treatments for ovarian cancer are surgery, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, targeted therapy, and radiation therapy. Often, two or more different treatments are used, though surgery is the main initial treatment for most ovarian cancers. Studies in early stage ovarian cancer have shown an increase in overall survival with the administration of chemotherapy, which is used in the majority of cases as a follow-up therapy to surgery.
Guidelines suggest intraperitoneal (IP) chemotherapy for later stage ovarian cancer. IP chemotherapy involves injecting a concentrated dose of drugs into the cancer cells in the abdominal cavity through a thin tube. In a study of women with advanced ovarian cancer, those receiving IP chemotherapy lived longer than those getting regular chemo, but the side effects were often more severe.
Percentage of individuals diagnosed with ovarian cancer who received chemotherapy by stage of diagnosis.
Healthy People 2020 Target
- There are no Healthy People 2020 targets for cancer treatment, including ovarian cancer treatment.
Healthy People 2020 is a set of goals set forth by the Department of Health and Human Services.
SEER Patterns of Care/Quality of Care Studies, National Cancer Institute,1991-2002.
Stage I and II Diagnoses
Stage III and IV Diagnoses
|Overview Graph||Detailed Trend Graphs||Most Recent Estimates (2011)|
|Percent of patients||Confidence Interval|
|Chemotherapy||79.9||(77.2 - 82.5)|
|Hormone therapy||0.6||(0.2 - 1.0)|
Distribution of Chemotherapeutic Agents
|Overview graph||Chemotherapy agent received||Stage I and II||Stage III and IV|
|Percent of patients receiving agent||Confidence Interval||Percent of patients receiving agent||Confidence Interval|
|Carboplatin/Cisplatin||61.1||(56.9 - 65.1)||77.5||(74.5 - 80.2)|
|Cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan)||0.1||(0.0 - 0.4)||0.6||(0.3 - 1.0)|
|Paclitaxol (Taxol)||53.3||(49.1 - 57.5)||72.6||(69.5 - 75.4)|
|Other Chemo Agents||15.7||(12.9 - 19.1)||30.7||(27.7 - 34.0)|
Additional Information on Ovarian Cancer Treatment
For the public
- Treating Ovarian Cancer. American Cancer Society.
- Ovarian Cancer. Foundation for Women’s Cancer.
- Ovarian Cancer. National Cancer Institute.
- Ovarian Cancer (NCCN Guidelines for Patients®). National Comprehensive Cancer Network.
- Treatment Options. National Ovarian Cancer Coalition.
- Treatment. Ovarian Cancer National Alliance.
For health professionals
- Ovarian Epithelial Cancer Treatment (PDQ®). National Cancer Institute.
- Ovarian Germ Cell Tumors Treatment (PDQ®). National Cancer Institute.
- Ovarian Low Malignant Potential Tumors Treatment (PDQ®). National Cancer Institute.