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The standard of care for invasive ovarian cancer includes chemotherapy with both taxane (usually paclitaxel) and platinum-based (usually carboplatinum) drugs. Ovarian cancer patients with BRCA mutations generally respond better to platinum-containing drugs than those who do not.
Stage 0 and low-grade stage 1 ovarian cancers generally do not require chemotherapy.
In some cases, physicians recommend intraperitoneal chemotherapy for ovarian cancer. In this case, a port is placed into the abdominal cavity, allowing the chemotherapy to flow directly into the abdomen and delivering more of it directly to the area where the cancer was found. While effective, intraperitoneal therapy comes with additional side effects, and requires additional surgery to remove the port when chemotherapy is completed. About 20% of patients experience complications related to the port.
A “dose dense taxol” is sometimes recommended for women whose cancer cannot be completely removed by surgery. In a dose dense regimen, a smaller dose of taxol is given more often, which may lead to improved survival in advanced cancers but also causes more side effects.
Maintenance therapy uses a drug to prevent cancer from returning after successful completion of chemotherapy. There are not many effective options for maintenance treatment for women with ovarian cancer, but a number of ongoing clinical trials are looking at PARP inhibitors as maintenance therapy for women who have successfully completed chemotherapy for ovarian cancer. See our research search tool to find maintenance trials in your area.