Ovarian Cancer Treatment Program

The Center for Gynecologic Oncology provides compassionate care for patients with ovarian cancer.
Request an Appointment

Talk to an access nurse today 877-789-6100

Center for Gynecologic Cancers


Specialists in the Center for Gynecologic Oncology are experienced in the treatment of all stages and forms of common and rare types of ovarian cancer, including:

  • Epithelial cell
  • Germ cell
  • Stromal cell
  • Extra-ovarian primary peritoneal carcinoma (EOPPC)

We are committed to providing you with compassionate, effective treatment based on the most advanced approaches for preserving sexual, reproductive and hormone function.

Innovative Approaches

In addition to traditional approaches, we offer the following innovative approaches to the diagnosis and treatment of ovarian cancer:

  • Access to leading-edge medical therapies
  • Newest surgical innovations with emphasis on minimally invasive procedures
  • Integrative therapies, such as acupuncture and yoga

Genetic counseling and testing for patients and family members is available at our Center for Cancer Risk Assessment. This service is especially valuable for patients with a family history of ovarian and related cancers.

Expertise in Diagnosing and Staging Cancers

Our pathologists are sub-specialized in identifying gynecologic malignancies. This expertise leads to more accurate diagnosis and staging, which forms the basis for your treatment.

Our gynecologic cancer pathologists are internationally recognized and consulted on the diagnosis of ovarian cancer. They participate in tumor board meetings, sharing information about each patient’s unique cancer with the entire treatment team to help guide care planning.

Our diagnostic experts are aided by advanced technologies including blood testing for the CA-125 ovarian tumor marker.

Standard and Novel Medical Treatments

Our patients have access to traditional and innovative treatment approaches including:

  • Intraperitoneal chemotherapy, which infuses medicine directly into the abdominal cavity to help improve outcomes and reduce side effects for women with advanced ovarian cancer
  • Cancer immunotherapy, which entails vaccinating women with their own modified tumor cells or immune stimulants to bolster the body’s response to cancer therapies
  • Therapies for drug-resistant tumors that help boost sensitivity to chemotherapy

Excellence in Surgical Care

Our gynecologic oncology surgeons are experienced in treatment of rare and common cancers and are recognized leaders in their fields. Research has shown that surgeons performing higher volumes of particular procedures offer patients better outcomes. Studies also confirm that ovarian cancer patients initially treated by gynecologic oncologists have improved survival rates compared to those treated by general gynecologists or general surgeons.

Depending on the location and stage of your cancer, your care team may recommend:

  • Cytoreductive surgery techniques that permit the complete or near complete removal of all cancerous tissue safely and effectively, which studies have found offers women with advanced ovarian cancer the best prognosis (outlook)
  • Minimally invasive robotic assisted surgery
  • Laparoscopic surgical techniques
  • Comprehensive lymph node dissection to detect microscopic disease that otherwise might escape detection by imaging tests
  • Salpingo-oophorectomy
  • Hysterectomy

Pioneering Radiation Therapies

Our specialized radiation teams offer a full spectrum of computer-controlled internal and external radiation treatments for ovarian cancer.

Learn more about radiation therapy.

Meet the Team

Our Ovarian Team

Your personalized treatment plan will be developed by experts from an array of gynecologic cancer specialties. Depending on the stage and other characteristics of your cancer, this treatment plan may include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, or a combination of these therapies.

The specialists involved in your care may include:

  • Medical Oncologists to prescribe the most effective chemotherapy treatments and discuss available clinical trials
  • Radiation Oncologists who specialize in delivering the highest therapeutic dose while protecting healthy tissue
  • Surgical Oncologists experienced in the latest minimally-invasive gynecologic surgery approaches
  • Oncology nurses and nurse practitioners who specialize in cancer care
  • Pathologists specializing in gynecologic cancers who provide a precise diagnosis of your cancer
  • Radiologists specializing in gynecologic malignancies that help guide the selection of appropriate imaging tests and provide accurate interpretation
  • Oncology psychiatrists and social workers experienced in helping with the cognitive side effects of cancer and treatment, as well the emotional and spiritual aspects of the cancer experience
  • A nutritionist to help you with questions about diet and nutrition during treatment
  • Palliative care providers to improve quality of life


Michael Birrer, MD

Michael J. Birrer, MD, PhD
Program Director, Gynecologic Oncology Program




Don S. Dizon, MD

Don S. Dizon, MD
Co-Clinical Director, Gynecologic Oncology Program




Marcela G. del Carmen, MD, MPHMarcela G. del Carmen, MD, MPH
Co-Clinical Director, Gynecologic Oncology Program




See the complete team list treating Ovarian Cancer

Patient Education

Information about Ovarian Cancer

The ovaries are female reproductive organs located in the pelvis. Cancer that begins in the tissues of an ovary is called ovarian cancer.

There are three main types of ovarian cancer: epithelial ovarian cancer, germ cell cancer and stromal cell cancer. Each is named for the tissue in which the tumor (abnormal growth) starts.

The American Cancer Society estimated that about 21,290 women in the United States would receive a new diagnosis of ovarian cancer in 2015, and that the disease would cause about 14,180 deaths.

Ovarian Cancer Diagnosis

A diagnosis of ovarian cancer may be made through tests and procedures including:

  • Medical history and physical examination
  • Internal pelvic exam
  • Pap test (Pap smear)
  • Ultrasound
  • Computed tomography (CT) scan
  • CA 125 assay
  • Biopsy

Ovarian Cancer Treatment

The most common form of ovarian cancer treatment is surgery. Types of surgery include:

  • Unilateral salpingo-oophorectomy: Removal of an ovary and fallopian tube (called bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy if both ovaries and both fallopian tubes are removed)
  • Hysterectomy: Removal of the uterus
  • Omentectomy: removal of the omentum
  • Debulking surgery: removal of all visible tumor
  • Pelvic lymph node dissection: Removal and dissection of lymph nodes to identify the microscopic spread of cancer

Nonsurgical ovarian cancer treatments include:

  • Radiation therapy uses high-energy radiation beams to kill or shrink tumors while sparing healthy tissue
  • Chemotherapy kills cancer cells through the use of intravenous (IV) or oral drugs.Intraperitoneal (IP) chemotherapy is another option that may be used for women with advanced ovarian cancer
  • Targeted therapy uses drugs that attack specific parts of cancer cells
  • Clinical trials may provide access to new and promising therapies for ovarian cancer

Learn more about ovarian cancer on our patient education page.

Clinical Trials

Clinical trials are research studies of new drugs, new combinations of drugs or already approved drugs being studied to treat patients in new and different ways. They may include new drug doses or new ways (schedules) to give the drugs. Clinical trials are run under strict guidelines. Their purpose is to help find out whether new cancer treatments are safe and effective or better than the standard (current) treatment.

Cancer is increasingly becoming a disease in which the genetic make-up of each individual cancer drives therapy. The Center for Gynecologic Oncology also has access to clinical trials involving these targeted therapy approaches.

Find listings of our current clinical trials for Ovarian Cancer.

The Cancer Center also offers the Lazarex-MGH Cancer Care Equity Program, which strives to promote awareness about and access to cancer clinical trials through community outreach and education, financial assistance, and patient navigation. Learn more about this program.


If you have any questions or would like to speak with one of our doctors, please call the Center for Gynecologic Oncology at (617) 724-4800.

Request an Appointment

Talk to an access nurse today 877-789-6100

Center for Gynecologic Cancers

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