There are many different types of chemotherapy protocols. Your treatment will depend on the type of ovarian cancer and the stage, how far it has spread.
Chemotherapy or “chemo” is the use of one drug or, usually, a combination of drugs to kill cancer cells throughout the body. Chemotherapy treats the whole body rather than just one part of it.
Chemotherapy is often used as a treatment for ovarian cancer; either before or after surgery.
Given before surgery (neoadjuvant chemo), the chemo reduces the size of the tumour, making it easier to remove.
After surgery (adjuvant chemo), the chemo is used to destroy any remaining cancer cells.
“Epithelial cancer on the ovary is now known to consist of at least five different diseases. Treatment is dependent on a number of factors including tumor type (histology), burden of disease (stage and amount of cancer), physical health and genetic differences. Treatment generally involves both chemotherapy and surgery, the sequence of which is based on the overall clinical situation and is individualized to obtain optimal personalized care." The Society of Gynecologic Oncology of Canada
GOC Statement Regarding Neoadjuvant Chemotherapy vs. Upfront Debulking Surgery for Treatment of Advanced Stage Cancer of the Ovaries
How chemotherapy works
One common chemotherapy regimen uses a combination of drugs to produce the best possible response to treatment, (i.e. a combination of platinum products such as cisplatin or carboplatin with Taxol or paclitaxel).
Combination chemotherapy does not necessarily mean that you will have twice the normal number of side effects. Other chemotherapy agents may be used to prolong survival.
Chemotherapy commonly produces side effects such as:
Low blood counts
These effects may be reversed once chemotherapy ends, although it may take some time.
How chemotherapy is performed
Chemotherapy drugs are injected into a vein (given 'intravenously' or IV) so that they can circulate through the blood stream.
By IP therapy
'Intraperitoneal' chemotherapy or IP chemotherapy is used for stage 3 and 4. The drugs are given straight into the abdomen through a plastic tube.
Some chemotherapy treatments are given by oral tablet.
For more information
Cancer treatments and side effects (Macmillan support group)