Chemotherapy for Ovarian Cancer

Chemotherapy is the use of specific drugs which are given in such a way which allows them to reach all areas of the body. Particularly for cancers which have spread, chemotherapy can be extremely beneficial. The drugs used in chemotherapy are injected into a vein, or, in some instances, given by mouth. For ovarian cancer, chemotherapy drugs may be administered through a thin tube, directly into the abdominal cavity. The following details how chemotherapy is administered for specific types of ovarian cancer.


  • Epithelial ovarian cancer chemotherapy is often a combination of two, possibly more drugs, administered via IV, approximately once every three to four weeks. The “standard” drugs used in the early treatment of epithelial ovarian cancer is a platinum compound such as carboplatin or cisplatin and a taxane, such as Taxotere or Taxol. Most doctors would rather use carboplatin, since it appears to be just as effective as cisplatin, but has fewer side effects.  Typically, a course of chemotherapy used for epithelial ovarian cancer will involve three to six cycles. A cycle is a schedule of regular dosages of the drugs, followed by a short rest period. While it can appear that chemotherapy has shrunk or completely gotten rid of epithelial ovarian cancer, the cancer cells often grow again. Other drugs which are used in chemotherapy to treat epithelial ovarian cancer include:
    • Abraxane
    • Hexalen
    • Xeloda
    • Cytoxan
    • VP-16
    • Gemzar
    • Ifex
    • Camptosar
    • Doxil
    • Melphalan
    • Alimta
    • Topotecan
    • Navelbine

Although chemotherapy does kill cancer cells, it can also damage your body’s normal cells. Some of the more common side effects associated with epithelial ovarian cancer chemotherapy include:

  • Appetite loss;
  • Hair loss;
  • Nausea;
  • Vomiting;
  • Rashes on the hands and feet;
  • Mouth sores;
  • An increased risk of infection;
  • Bleeding or bruising following a minor injury, and
  • Severe fatigue.


Most side effects will eventually disappear once the chemotherapy is discontinued. While your hair will grow back, it might look very different. Some chemotherapy drugs could have side effects that continue after the drugs are discontinued, or could even be permanent. As an example, the drug cisplatin can potentially lead to kidney damage. Cisplatin, as well as taxane drugs can cause neuropathy, or nerve damage, which causes tingling or numbness in the extremities. Cisplating can also damage the audio nerves, potentially causing hearing loss. Chemotherapy has also been known to cause permanent infertility and early menopause, and occasionally some chemotherapy drugs can permanently damage bone marrow, leading to the development of leukemia.

  • Intraperitoneal chemotherapy for ovarian cancer may require cisplatin and paclitaxel injected into the abdominal cavity through a catheter, which is generally placed during debulking. The catheter is connected to a disk, topped with a pliable diaphragm. The port is placed under the skin, against a rib or pelvic bone, then a needle is placed through the skin, into the port to deliver the chemotherapy drugs. Intraperitoneal chemotherapy concentrates the dosages of drugs to the cancer cells in the abdominal cavity, however this type of chemotherapy often has very severe side effects. Women with advanced ovarian cancer who received intraperitoneal chemotherapy were more likely to suffer from serious abdominal pain, vomiting and nausea than women who received chemotherapy via IV. Normally, only women whose ovarian cancer has spread to the inside of the abdomen will receive IP chemotherapy.
  • Germ cell ovarian cancer chemotherapy is generally a combination of drugs, typically cisplatin, etoposide and bleomycin. Because dysgerminomas tend to be more sensitive to chemotherapy than other types of ovarian cancer, they may be treated with less toxic chemotherapy drugs. Chemotherapy for germ cell tumors has the same risks and side effects as chemotherapy for epithelial ovarian cancer.  In rare cases, bleomycin can lead to lung damage, and Ifosfamide can lead to irritation and bleeding of the lining of the bladder.
  • Chemotherapy for stromal tumors is not generally used, but if it is, a combination of carboplatin plus paclitaxel or PEB (Platinol, etoposide and bleomycin) is used.  The side effects associated with chemotherapy used for stromal tumors are the same as for chemotherapy used for epithelial ovarian cancer.


Baby Powder with Talc and the Dangers of Talcum Powder Ovarian Cancer

Like many other women across the nation, you may have heard about the recent Johnson & Johnson talcum powder ovarian cancer lawsuits. If you have been diagnosed with ovarian cancer, and if you use baby powder with talc or Shower to Shower, then you may have many questions regarding whether your ovarian cancer could have been caused by your use of talcum powder for feminine hygiene. In the 1970’s, thirteen ovarian tumors were examined by researchers, who found evidence of deeply embedded talc fibers in nine of the tumors. Following this finding, a significant body of research was done on the link between talcum powder used for feminine hygiene and ovarian cancer.


Many of those studies concluded there was a 30-40 percent increased risk of ovarian cancer among women who used talcum powder for feminine hygiene. During the recent J & J trials, it came to light that a 1997 J & J internal memo stated anyone who denied the risk between talcum powder and ovarian cancer was “denying the obvious in the face of all evidence to the contrary.” Despite this, J & J continues to maintain talcum powder is safe. There are currently 1,200 or more talcum powder ovarian cancer lawsuits pending, and jurors have found in favor of the plaintiff in the first three Johnson & Johnson talcum powder cancer trials.


Were you a victim of Talcum Powder Ovarian Cancer? Did you use baby powder with talc or “Shower to Shower” for feminine hygiene?

If you have been diagnosed with ovarian cancer and you used talcum powder (contained in baby powder with talc and “Shower to Shower”) for feminine hygiene, it could be beneficial to speak to a knowledgeable talcum powder ovarian cancer attorney. Your attorney can answer any questions you have about a potential talcum powder lawsuit, as well as certain questions about talcum powder related ovarian cancer. You may be entitled to compensation for your injuries.


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