Ovarian Cancer

Ovarian cancer is one of the leading causes of cancer death among women in the United States. Because it often doesn't cause symptoms early on, or its symptoms are general and similar to other illnesses, it has typically grown to an advanced stage by the time it is diagnosed. If you have ovarian cancer, you need a multidisciplinary team of specialists collaborating in an academic medical center such as NewYork-Presbyterian. We offer treatment based on the findings of the latest medical research, and also opportunities to participate in clinical trials of innovative therapies. Our ovarian cancer specialists are skilled and compassionate professionals whose goal is to cure your cancer while supporting your health and well-being.

A Team of Ovarian Cancer Experts

Your treatment team includes gynecologic oncologists, pathologists, radiologists, nurses, and others with the training and experience to tailor a plan of care that meets your needs. Our teams also work with colleagues in other specialties, including breast oncologists and surgeons and gastroenterologists.

Genetic Testing, Counseling, and Screening

If you have an increased risk of ovarian cancer because of a family history of the disease, you can consult with a genetic counselor and undergo genetic testing (for example, screening for BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations or Lynch syndrome) and receive counseling about screening tests.

  • If genetic testing indicates you have an elevated risk of ovarian cancer, we offer prophylactic oophorectomy (preventive surgery to remove the ovaries) to reduce your cancer risk. Your team will take the time to discuss this option with you if it is an approach you are interested in pursuing. We perform this procedure using laparoscopy, a minimally invasive approach that can be done on an outpatient basis and which enables you to resume your normal activities fairly quickly.
  • Some women with ovarian cancer are also at increased risk for breast cancer. You will have facilitated access to our renowned breast centers, which offer coordinated care for women with or at risk for breast cancer.

Ovarian Cancer Surgery

Treatment for ovarian cancer most often includes surgery to remove the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and uterus—an operation called "hysterectomy with salpingo-oophorectomy." Our surgeons are very skilled in this procedure as well as "debulking surgery”—extensive removal of tissue in the abdomen that contains ovarian cancer cells. Optimal debulking surgery raises your chance of longer survival. In some instances, ovarian cancer debulking surgery can be performed using laparoscopic or robotic-assisted techniques. These minimally-invasive surgeries are associated with less postoperative pain and a faster recovery. Our surgeons are also specialists in ovarian cancer staging, which is very important for determining the best treatment regimen for you if your cancer appears to be limited to the ovary.

Chemotherapy Options for Ovarian Cancer

Most women with ovarian cancer need chemotherapy, such as cisplatin or carboplatin, to kill any cancer cells remaining in the body. Our team gives intravenous chemotherapy in NewYork-Presbyterian's modern and comfortable infusion centers.

  • Abdominal chemotherapy. Your doctor will let you know if you are a candidate for intraperitoneal chemotherapy, which we give directly into the abdomen to kill cancer cells. First, the surgeon removes as much cancerous tissue as possible. Then chemotherapy is given into the abdomen—either during the surgery to remove the tumor or in a separate surgery afterward.
  • Targeted therapy. Some women with BRCA mutations and advanced ovarian cancer that continues to grow despite prior treatment receive PARP Inhibitors, a class of targeted therapeutic drugs that are taken orally (by mouth).

Clinical Trials for Ovarian Cancer

Our gynecologic cancer specialists participate in and lead clinical trials assessing promising new treatments for gynecologic cancers. For example, researchers are evaluating intraperitoneal radiation therapy and immunotherapy (treatment that provokes the immune system to find and kill cancer cells) for ovarian cancer. Additionally, molecular testing of ovarian cancers may help identify unique molecular abnormalities in your cancer. Such abnormalities can sometimes be targeted with specific drugs or compounds that are used in practice or available through clinical trials. This approach to individualized treatment is called precision medicine. Your doctor will let you know if you are eligible to participate in a clinical trial of a novel therapy. Learn More.