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Treatment for , ovarian and primary peritoneal cancer

Doctors base ovarian cancer treatment recommendations on several factors, including:

Treatment for , ovarian and primary peritoneal cancer usually involves a combination of surgery and

  • Surgery for ovarian cancer consists of complete removal of the cancer, known as optimal debulking, whenever possible. Surgery also helps your doctor learn if the cancer has spread. Surgery before chemotherapy is used for patients who are healthy enough to endure an abdominal surgery with a 2-3 day hospital stay, and who have tumors that can be completely removed. In some cases, chemotherapy is given before surgery to help make the tumor smaller to remove as much of the tumor as possible. This is known as neo-adjuvant chemotherapy. 
  •  treats the entire body in order to prevent or control spread to other areas. Systemic therapies include:

Women in their childbearing years who wish to spare their fertility should speak to a specialist before surgery or other treatment.


  • Treatment for ovarian cancer usually includes a type of agent known as platinum chemotherapy. Two common examples are carboplatin and cisplatin.
  • A second type of chemotherapy, called a taxane, is usually combined with the platinum drug. Two common taxanes are paclitaxel and docetaxel.

Chemotherapy may be given in two different ways.

  • Intravenous (IV) chemotherapy is injected into a vein. 
  • Intraperitoneal (IP) chemotherapy is injected through a tube into the abdomen. Intraperitoneal therapy comes with additional side effects, and requires additional surgery to remove the port when chemotherapy is completed. 

Platinum-sensitive vs. platinum-resistant

  • Platinum resistant cancers are those that do not shrink during platinum chemotherapy, or those cancers that initially respond, but come back within 6 months of treatment. 
  • cancers respond to platinum treatment and do not recur for at least six months or longer.   

Timing of treatment

  • chemotherapy is given before surgery to some women with advanced cancer. The goal is to shrink the tumors to help the surgeon remove as much of the cancer as possible. 
  • After surgery, most women with high-grade and/or advanced ovarian cancer will receive chemotherapy. The goal of chemotherapy after surgery is to prevent recurrence or to control the growth and spread of the cancer. Some women with advanced ovarian cancer will also receive  or  as part of their post-surgery treatment. 
  • Women whose ovarian cancer has recurred may receive additional chemotherapy,  or  after recurrence, depending on response to initial treatment and tumor  testing.
  • is given to some women after they complete chemotherapy treatment to keep the cancer from coming back or growing. You can read more on .  
Last updated January 23, 2022

Get Support
Get Support

The following organizations offer peer support services for people with or at high risk for ovarian cancer:

updated: 02/05/2022

Paying For Care
Paying For Care

Paying for cancer treatment

The majority of public and private health insurance plans are required to cover cancer diagnosis and treatment; copays, coinsurance and deductibles often apply. Patient costs and coverage for specific doctors, facilities or treatments may vary based on your health plan. Visit our section on Insurance and Paying for Care: Treatment  for more information, links to sample appeal letters and other resources. 

If you need information about finding an insurance plan, watch our video: Choosing Wisely: How to Pick Insurance Plans.

Some pharmaceutical companies have assistance programs that help cover the cost for their medications: 

Organizations that offer co-pay assistance:

Other resources:

  • The American Cancer Society provides information and resources on covering the cost of cancer care. Public assistance, such as Medicaid may be available if you are ineligible for other programs. 
  • Needy Meds: Assistance programs to help patients with cost of medications and other healthcare.
  • Triage Cancer offers tools and resources to help individuals cope with the financial aspects of a cancer diagnosis.

updated: 02/10/2023