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Some of the following therapies are still in experimental stages and may be available by participating in a clinical trial. Although they have shown some promise, there is no conclusive evidence they slow or stop disease progression, or prolong life in everyone. Talk to your doctor to see if any of these treatments would be right for you.

Targeted Therapy

Targeted therapy uses specific medications to seek out and destroy cancer cells or systems that support the cancer cells. For example, medications can be used to stop the growth of new blood vessels that enhance tumor growth. Targeted therapy may include:

  • Bevacizumab—prevents blood vessel growth in tumors
  • Olaparib—interferes with cell division in women with BRCA1 and BRCA2 genetic mutations

Common side effects include:

  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Headache
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Joint and/or muscle pain
Hormone Therapy

Some ovarian cancers are hormone-sensitive. Hormones are able to bind to cancer cells, which stimulate growth and division. Hormone therapy inhibits this process by preventing certain hormones from binding to cancer cells. Hormone therapy may include:

  • Tamoxifen to block the effects of estrogen
  • Aromatase inhibitors to block the production of estrogen
  • Luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone (LHRH) agonists to lower estrogen levels by blocking the hormonal effects of the ovaries

Common side effects include:

  • Hot flashes
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Joint and/or muscle pain
  • Bone thinning, which can increase the risk of osteoporosis
  • Blood clots (tamoxifen)
Immunotherapy

Immunotherapy, or biological response modifier therapy, involves using medications to boost the effects of the body's immune system to recognize and kill cancer cells. Immunotherapy may include:

  • Farletuzumab—Targets a specific receptor found on the outside of some ovarian cancer cells.
  • Catumaxomab—Targets specific proteins found in ovarian cancer cells or immune system cells. It can also help decrease the build up of fluid in the abdomen (ascites)
  • Vaccines—Bacteria or viruses used to produce an immune system response.

Common side effects include:

  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Fever
  • Pain

References:

Ovarian cancer. American Cancer Society website. Available at: http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/cid/documents/webcontent/003130-pdf.pdf. Accessed November 14, 2016.

Ovarian cancer. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T900705/Ovarian-cancer. Updated November 2, 2016. Accessed November 14, 2016.

Ovarian cancer. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/gynecology-and-obstetrics/gynecologic-tumors/ovarian-cancer. Updated May 2013. Accessed November 14, 2016.

Treatment option overview. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: https://www.cancer.gov/types/ovarian/patient/ovarian-epithelial-treatment-pdq#section/_156. Updated November 3, 2016. Accessed November 14, 2016.



Last reviewed December 2015 by Mohei Abouzied, MD

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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