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Health A-Z

Medical Content Created by the Faculty of the
Harvard Medical School

Treatment

Ovarian cancer is usually treated with surgery. In most cases, the surgeon removes the ovaries, fallopian tubes, uterus and cervix. She or he may also remove the thin tissue covering the stomach and intestines, as well as nearby lymph nodes.

After surgery, chemotherapy may be needed to kill any remaining cancer cells. It may be infused directly into the abdomen to try to kill any cancer cells on the lining of the abdomen. Chemotherapy can also be taken by mouth or injected into a vein. Radiation therapy is used less often.

Chemotherapy and radiation therapy kill cancer cells, but they also affect healthy cells. This causes side effects. Side effects depend on the type of treatment and how long it lasts. Side effects may include:

  • anemia (a low red blood cell count)

  • infection because of a low white blood cell count)

  • easy bruising and problems with blood clotting because of a low platelet count

  • nausea and vomiting

  • hair loss

  • diarrhea.

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From Health A-Z, Harvard Health Publications. Copyright 2007 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved. Written permission is required to reproduce, in any manner, in whole or in part, the material contained herein. To make a reprint request, contact Harvard Health Publications. Used with permission of StayWell.

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