Ovarian Cancer Treatment

Ovarian Cancer Treatment (<i>cont'd</i>)


This chemotherapy medication is administered by infusion too, usually in combination with Taxol. It has replaced other drugs because it is said to be less toxic. Nausea and vomiting may be severe in about one-third of all patients but usually subsides within 24 hours of treatment. Medication may be given prior to therapy to help reduce this effect. Other side effects include:


  • pain
  • diarrhea
  • constipation
  • change in taste
  • hair loss

Today, first-line standard therapy includes tumor debulking surgery (removal of all visible tumors), followed by six cycles of combination paxitaxol/carboplatin administered intravenously every three weeks.

In addition to the standard chemotherapy drugs, there are other drugs available:


is used for metastatic (cancer that has spread) ovarian cancer after failure of initial or subsequent chemotherapy. This is one of the first of a new kind of drugs that kills cancer cells by inhibiting an enzyme essential to the replication of human DNA. It is injected by a health care professional who is experienced in administering anticancer (chemotherapeutic) drugs. Serious side effects that may require medical attention can include:

  • diarrhea
  • difficulty breathing
  • fever or chills, cough or sore throat
  • mouth sores
  • nausea, vomiting
  • pain, swelling, redness or irritation at the injection site
  • stomach pain
  • unusual bleeding or bruising, pinpoint red spots on the skin
  • unusual tiredness or weakness

Side effects that usually do not require medical attention include:

  • constipation
  • hair loss
  • headache
  • joint pain
  • loss of appetite
  • tingling, or numbness in the hands and feet
  • skin rash, itching

After your treatment is finished, your health care professional should discuss follow-up care, an important part of the plan. You will likely have to undergo regular blood tests, x-rays, ultrasound studies or a second-look surgery to make sure the cancer has not returned.

Copyright 2003 National Women's Health Resource Center Inc. (NWHRC).