Our Approach to Ovarian Cancer

The ovaries are two small glands located on either side of the uterus. Their job is to store oocytes, or egg cells, and release them as part of the menstrual cycle. When a baby girl is born, her ovaries already contain all of egg cells she will ever have in her life.

Ovarian cancer tends to develop after women have gone through menopause. It doesn’t cause obvious symptoms in its early stages, so many patients don’t realize something is wrong until the cancer is already more advanced.

If you have been diagnosed with ovarian cancer, it’s important to go to a center that can provide you with a full range of treatment options, including access to clinical trials.

At Siteman Cancer Center, Washington University oncologists and surgeons have the tools and expertise to tailor treatment to each patient’s diagnosis and individual circumstances. As the largest gynecologic oncology program in the Midwest, we see over 600 new patients with ovarian, cervical and endometrial cancers each year. Our ongoing research programs and clinical trials mean that ovarian cancer patients get the most advanced, evidence-based care available.

Like many women with ovarian cancer, you may be used to taking care of others. At Siteman, we will take care of you. We are in this together with our multi-disciplinary team of nurses, oncologists, psychologists.

The Siteman difference

Siteman Cancer Center is the only National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center in Missouri. U.S. News & World Report consistently ranks us among the top cancer facilities in the nation. As an NCI institution, we provide first-class patient care, conduct groundbreaking research, and train exceptional residents and fellows who will go on to become some of the best physicians in the country.

Since its founding in 1999, Siteman has been leading the charge against cancer from the middle of the Midwest. Our Washington University oncologists and scientists have an impressive track record of discoveries that have fundamentally changed how cancer is treated.

Team-based, specialist care 

As a patient at Siteman, you will be treated by a multi-disciplinary team of oncologists who specialize in gynecologic cancers. This means that they care for women with cervical, endometrial or ovarian cancers. In addition to providing exceptional cancer treatment, our physicians conduct cutting-edge research on these cancers, searching for even better approaches to treatment.

Patient cases are regularly presented at weekly multi-disciplinary tumor boards, where faculty members from gynecologic oncology, radiation oncology and pathology weigh in and offer their expertise to develop an individualized treatment plan for each patient.

Through this team-based approach, Siteman’s Washington University gynecologic oncologists provide safe innovative, and comprehensive care. As a Siteman patient, you can take comfort in knowing that your treatment plan has been carefully put together and tailored entirely to you.

Meet the ovarian cancer specialist team.

Safer surgeries

Most patients with ovarian cancer will be treated with surgery. Depending on the extent of your cancer, this could mean having a single ovary removed, or it could mean having your uterus and surrounding tissues removed as well. At Siteman, our exceptional Washington University gynecologic oncologists perform minimally invasive procedures whenever possible to minimize risks and encourage faster recoveries.

Learn more about surgery for ovarian cancer.

Genetic counseling

Ovarian cancer is sometimes caused by inherited genetic mutations, most frequently mutations that occur in the BRCA genes. Siteman offers patients the opportunity to pursue genetic testing and counseling to see if mutations are driving their cancer. Identifying a mutation can help your care team design a more effective treatment plan for you. It can also benefit other members of your family who may not be aware they are at risk.

Read about how Siteman helps patients with genetic counseling.

Clinical trials 

Clinical trials are research studies evaluating new drugs, procedures and protocols. They give patients access to novel therapies before they are available for general use. Siteman Cancer Center offers more clinical trials than any other facility in the region. When you come to Siteman, your team will see if any trials could be a good match for you. Sometimes, clinical trials can save lives.

Read about ongoing clinical trials for ovarian cancer at Siteman.

Palliative care

Many patients are reluctant to ask for palliative care, because they fear it means giving up on a cure or remission. But the real goal of palliative care is to help you manage your symptoms and treatment side effects so you can have a higher quality of life during treatment and enjoy time with your loved ones. It is appropriate at any age and at any stage in your illness.

Palliative care is provided by a specially trained team of physicians, nurse practitioners, social workers and chaplains, all of whom work together with your oncologists. The palliative care team makes recommendations on extended pain management and any other support patients and their families may need. We are always mindful about integrating patients’ and families’ lifestyles and spiritual beliefs into the care plan.