Treatment Options for Ovarian Cancer

Once your care team has the results of your diagnostic tests and has assigned a stage to your cancer, our specialists from both Dana-Farber and Brigham and Women’s — including medical oncologists, radiation oncologists and gynecologic oncologists — will work with you and your family to develop a personalized treatment plan that works for you.

Our team also provides many types of supportive services, including nutritional counseling, emotional and spiritual support, financial advice and complementary therapies, such as acupuncture and massage.

Throughout your treatment, we want you to feel like you’re an active participant in your care. Please talk with your care team about your treatment goals and always feel free to ask treatment-related questions during your appointments. Your care team works at both the Dana-Farber and Brigham campuses in Boston. You may have appointments at either DFCI or BWH, but we are connected by a bridge, so you will not even have to step foot outside if needing to travel between hospitals.

Your treatment options will be based on your health history and the stage of your cancer. You may have one or more of the treatment options listed below.

Non-Surgical Treatment Options

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy uses high-energy rays to shrink and kill cancer cells. The two main radiation therapy approaches used at Dana-Farber Brigham Cancer Center are external radiation therapy (external beam therapy), which beams radiation directly to the cancer cells from outside of the body, and internal radiation therapy (implant therapy), or brachytherapy, in which pellets that emit radiation are implanted into the body.

The Department of Radiation Oncology has two separate units, one at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the other at Dana-Farber Cancer Center, staffed by doctors who work at both locations. If your treatment includes radiation therapy, your health care team will decide with you which is the right location for you.


Chemotherapy, or chemo, uses drugs to shrink and kill cancer cells. It is often used in combination with surgery to treat ovarian cancer. You may be given more than one chemo medicine to treat ovarian cancer. Your doctor can give you more information about the type of chemo you may receive.

Learn more about chemotherapy for ovarian cancer.

Surgical Treatment Options

Surgery is sometimes used to remove ovarian cancer. Some common surgeries for ovarian cancer include:

  • Total hysterectomy is surgery to remove the entire uterus, including the cervix.
  • Unilateral salpingo-oophorectomy is surgery to remove one ovary and one fallopian tube.
  • Bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy is surgery to remove both ovaries and fallopian tubes.
  • Omentectomy is surgery to remove the omentum, a piece of abdominal tissue.

All surgery is performed by gynecologic surgeons at BWH. Our surgeons use the most advanced technology available, performing minimally invasive surgeries whenever appropriate. Our team of surgeons, medical and radiation oncologists, gynecologists, anesthesiologists and pathologists have decades of experience caring for patients with ovarian cancer.

If you are having surgery or a procedure, all patients will have a visit with one of our anesthesiologists. The majority of these visits are virtual, when possible. Otherwise, you will likely be scheduled to visit the Roberta and Stephen R. Weiner Center for Preoperative Evaluation for preoperative information and tests. Learn more about planning for preoperative appointments, as well as contact information for the Weiner Center.

The Day of Surgery

On the day of surgery, you will be cared for in the operating room by our surgeons, anesthesiologists and nurses who specialize in ovarian cancer surgery. After surgery, you will recover in the post-surgical care unit where you will receive comprehensive care from our experienced surgical and nursing staff. The length of your hospital stay will depend on the type of surgery you have.

You will likely experience some pain for the first few days after surgery, but your care team will prescribe medicine to help control any pain. Before you leave the hospital, your care team will start you on an oral pain medicine. Talk with your team about your options for pain relief.

After Surgery

Recovery time after you leave the hospital varies from patient to patient, but it may take a month or more. You may feel tired or weak for several weeks after your surgery. You may have constipation from using pain medicine, not moving around or not eating or drinking very much. Talk with your doctor about how to prevent and treat constipation.

If you have any questions about your surgery, talk with your health care team. They can help you know what to expect before, during and after your surgery. Learn more about your hospital stay and returning home.

Clinical Trials

Patients with ovarian cancer may also be eligible to participate in clinical trials at Dana-Farber Brigham Cancer Center. Clinical trials study the effectiveness of new cancer treatments and may offer benefits to patients with varying stages of ovarian cancer. Previous clinical studies have resulted in a variety of new treatments that have helped to advance the field of cancer medicine. Ask your healthcare team if this may be an option for you.

Learn more about Brigham and Women's Hospital

For over a century, a leader in patient care, medical education and research, with expertise in virtually every specialty of medicine and surgery.

About BWH