Treatment Programs

Ovarian Cancer

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

 

On this page you will find information to help you:

Information about Ovarian Cancer

Learn More about this Condition
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 TreatmentThe 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.

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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

 

Don S. Dizon, MD

See the Complete Team List

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 

 

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Our Approach

Ovarian Treatment Program
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.

 

Research and 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. At Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center, there are several clinical trials open for the treatment of breast cancer that use the latest in cancer treatments.

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.

Click below to find listings of our current clinical trials.

Find Clinical Trials for this Condition

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. Click here to find out more about this program.

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Contact Us
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.

 

 

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Ovarian cancer

Ovarian cancer is a disease in which malignant cells are found in an ovary.

Ovarian Cancer and Hereditary Nonpolyposis Colon Cancer (HNPCC)

The risk for ovarian cancer is increased with hereditary nonpolyposis colon cancer (HNPCC), an autosomal dominant cancer genetic syndrome.

The Katherine A. Gallagher Integrative Therapies Program

The Katherine A. Gallagher Integrative Therapies Program focuses on improving the quality of life and well-being of Cancer Center patients, their families and friends through free wellness services such as acupuncture and yoga. These services help you take care of your whole self — mind, body and spirit.

Maxwell V. Blum Cancer Resource Center

The Maxwell V. Blum Cancer Resource Center is a program that offers a range of support resources around the Cancer Center. The center has an ongoing mission to make support services, as well as respite and community-building areas, more accessible to patients and families throughout the Cancer Center.

The PACT Program

The Marjorie E. Korff PACT program at the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center provides psycho-educational support for parents who are patients.

Oncology Chaplaincy

Our oncology chaplain is familiar with the unique needs of those with cancer.

Home Disconnect

A home infusion pump may be part of your treatment plan. In some cases, you may have the option for disconnecting the chemotherapy from home. If this option applies to you, and you would prefer to disconnect from home, this instructional video will reinforce the teaching provided to you by your nurse in the Mass General cancer Center

The following related clinical trials and research studies are currently seeking participants at Massachusetts General Hospital. Search for clinical trials and studies in another area of interest.

Researchers hone in on treatment targets for ovarian cancer

Gynecologic cancer research Program Director Michael Birrer, MD, PhD, explains how ovarian tumor discoveries in the lab are already impacting patient care.

Paying it Forward

After nearly losing everything to stage-4 ovarian cancer, Kim Lohnes is helping others receive the care they desperately need.

Ovarian Cancer Survivors Course

A recap of the Ovarian Cancer Survivors Course

Nurse goes beyond the extra mile for former patient

When a dying patient asked oncology nurse Kristin Beauparlant to take up her efforts to bicycle and raise funding for cancer research, Beauparlant couldn't say no. On June 15 through 17, Beauparlant and the patient's widow rode 180 miles and raised $34,000 to support ovarian cancer education and research at the MGH.

Women's Cancer's 2012 Ovarian Cancer Survivors Course

Please join us for a free, full day course for all cancer survivors, friends, family members and others.

The Katherine A. Gallagher Integrative Therapies Program

The Katherine A. Gallagher Integrative Therapies Program focuses on improving the quality of life and well-being of Cancer Center patients, their families and friends through free wellness services such as acupuncture and yoga. These services help you take care of your whole self — mind, body and spirit.

Maxwell V. Blum Cancer Resource Center

The Maxwell V. Blum Cancer Resource Center is a program that offers a range of support resources around the Cancer Center. The center has an ongoing mission to make support services, as well as respite and community-building areas, more accessible to patients and families throughout the Cancer Center.

The PACT Program

The Marjorie E. Korff PACT program at the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center provides psycho-educational support for parents who are patients.

Oncology Chaplaincy

Our oncology chaplain is familiar with the unique needs of those with cancer.

Home Disconnect

A home infusion pump may be part of your treatment plan. In some cases, you may have the option for disconnecting the chemotherapy from home. If this option applies to you, and you would prefer to disconnect from home, this instructional video will reinforce the teaching provided to you by your nurse in the Mass General cancer Center

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Phone: 617-726-5130

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Join Our Ovarian Cancer Long-term Survival Study

If you are an eight-year or more stage III or stage IV ovarian cancer survivor, help to improve the treatment, survival and survivorship of all women with cancer.