Chemotherapy for Ovarian Cancer


To destroy any tumor cells that might be left behind after surgery for ovarian cancer, many women receive one form or another of chemotherapy, which works by interrupting the growth of cancer cells.

There are several ways to receive chemotherapy medicines for ovarian, fallopian tube, or peritoneal cancer:

  • by mouth (oral chemotherapy)
  • by  injection into a vein
  • as  intraperitoneal chemotherapy placed directly into the lining of the abdominal area (the peritoneum) following surgery

At Memorial Sloan Kettering, we tailor the type of chemotherapy we recommend to each woman based on such factors as the type and stage of her cancer. We also make adjustments along the way as we assess whether the tumor is responding.  Today we also have options that include targeted drugs, which are often effective in identifying and attacking cancer cells while basically sparing normal cells.

Targeted Therapies for Ovarian Cancer

While each type of targeted therapy works differently, all attack the inner workings of cancer cells – the so-called programming that makes them different from normal, healthy cells.

Targeted therapies for ovarian cancer include:

  • Poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) inhibitors, which are enzymes that function as key regulators of cell survival and cell death. Drugs that inhibit PARP-1 help fight cancers caused by mutations in BRCA1 and BRCA2. In December 2014, the PARP inhibitor Alaparib was approved for women with BRCA mutations who have experienced a recurrence of ovarian cancer.
  • Bevacizumab (Avastin), a targeted therapy that has been studied frequently in ovarian cancer, and targets the blood vessels that supply the tumor and aid in growth.

Pazopanib (Votrient®), a targeted therapy drug that helps stop new blood vessels from forming. It has shown some promise in studies.