Ovarian cancer is the uncontrolled growth of cells of the ovaries. It is one of the leading reproductive organ cancer in women. The first-line treatment for ovarian cancer is surgery followed by a regimen of chemotherapy with a combination of anti-cancer drugs – usually a platinum-based and a taxane-based treatment. This treatment plan has shown a complete response in around 80% of ovarian cancer patients. However, every case is different and the treatment plan is customized for each patient. A multidisciplinary team of doctors is involved in providing holistic care to cancer patients. They design the treatment on the basis of the diagnostic test results for the stage of cancer, location of the tumor, its spread to other organs and the patient’s overall health.
With the advancement in technology, the cancer treatment have improved significantly. The researchers have found newer and more effective methods to target the cancer cells without damaging the healthy tissues and minimizing the side effects from the treatment. The best ovarian cancer treatment hospitals in India offer comprehensive range of services with all types of treatment options, including the advanced methods. These hospitals are nationally and internationally accredited centers with state-of-the-art infrastructure support. The dedicated oncology department at these hospitals is the center of excellence for diagnostic, therapeutic and rehabilitative care of the patients.
Some of the latest developments in ovarian cancer treatment are:
Every year, new chemotherapy drugs and combinations are tested in clinical trial phases. Some have shown safe and effective results. A person is said to have developed platinum-resistant cancer when they stop responding to the standard drugs – cisplatin and carboplatin. Several studies are being conducted to find ways to make the cancers sensitive to these drugs again. The various strategies for this include:
Working to determine the specific mechanisms or proteins that are involved in turning these ovarian cancer cells into resistance.
Formulating anti-cancer drugs that can prevent these cancer cells from becoming resistant to the standard chemo drugs. This might involve blocking channels that are involved in pumping out the chemotherapy drug from the cancer cell.
Examine and find the specifics of particular cancer cells where the chemotherapy has not been able to damage the DNA, allowing it to keep growing.
One approach to give intraperitoneal (IP) chemo treatment during surgery is by using heated drugs. This process is known as heated intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC). It is being termed effective and may improve the length of survival after the cancer treatment.
This is a relatively newer type of treatment for in which drugs or other substances are used to recognize and attack the cancer cells specifically with minimal damage to normal cells. There are different types of targeted therapy and each works differently. However, the main is to attack the cancer cells’ inner programming that makes it different from normal cells. The targeted therapy studied for ovarian cancer include Bevacizumab (Avastin), pembrolizumab, and others.
Another new advancement in cancer treatment is gene-based therapies. For ovarian and breast cancers in women that are associated with the genetic mutation in BRCA 1, the studies have reported low levels of the BRCA 1 mutation can show good responses towards PARP inhibitors and standard platinum drugs. A mutation is the change in the DNA of a cell, it can lead to cancer. New studies have found that microRNA, the small pieces of RNA (genetic material present in cell, other than DNA), is able to lower the levels of BRCA1 mutations. The doctors are testing the new drugs that can target these specific pieces of RNA to treat these cancers.
Patients with the advanced stages of cancer are recommended surgery as part of their treatment. Primary debulking surgery was the main surgical approach followed by chemotherapy sessions. Several clinical trials have established that the doctors can proceed with neoadjuvant chemotherapy before an interval debulking surgery in a certain ovarian cancer patients.
However, there are some limitations to this. Patients who are mostly considered to be the best candidates for neoadjuvant chemotherapy are the women who enrolled in the trials and most of them have stage IV disease. Studies suggest that some patients with less form of disease and having a better result (improvement) status may perform better with primary debulking surgery. It is important to follow the advice of your ovarian cancer team as they have thoroughly analyzed your case and can better guide you during the decision-making process for your cancer treatment approach.