Ovarian Cancer

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Treating Ovarian Cancer TOPICS

Targeted therapy for ovarian cancer

Targeted therapy is a newer type of cancer treatment that uses drugs or other substances to identify and attack cancer cells while doing little damage to normal cells. These therapies attack the cancer cells' inner workings − the programming that makes them different from normal, healthy cells. Each type of targeted therapy works differently, but all alter the way a cancer cell grows, divides, repairs itself, or interacts with other cells.

The targeted therapy drug that has been studied the most in ovarian cancer is bevacizumab (Avastin®). This drug helps block the signal that cancer cells send out to cause new blood vessels to form to nourish new tumors. In studies, bevacizumab has been shown to shrink or slow the growth of advanced ovarian cancers. Trials to see if bevacizumab works even better when given along with chemotherapy have shown good results in terms of shrinking (or stopping the growth of) tumors. But it doesn’t seem to help women live longer. Also, there have been problems with patients developing holes in the bowel wall (perforations) during treatment. Although this complication is rare, it can be fatal.

Bevacizumab was recently approved by the US Food and Drug Administration to treat advanced ovarian cancer.

Other targeted therapy drugs are being studied.

Our document Targeted Therapy has more information about these kinds of drugs. If you’d like more information on a drug used in your treatment or a specific drug mentioned in this section, see our Guide to Cancer Drugs , or call us with the names of the medicines you’re taking.

Last Medical Review: 08/05/2014
Last Revised: 11/17/2014