NCCN Guidelines for Patients® | Ovarian Cancer - page 41

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Part 5: Treatment with cancer drugs
NCCN Guidelines for Patients
®
: Ovarian cancer
Version 1.2013
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Even when the surgeon has removed all visible cancer, some cancer cells may
remain. For this reason, most women with ovarian cancer will take cancer drugs
in addition to surgery. Chemotherapy (or “chemo”) is the most common type
of cancer drug given. Chemotherapy kills all cells that grow rapidly, including
normal cells and cancer cells.
Drug regimens and categories
A regimen is a treatment plan that specifies the dosage, schedule, and
duration of treatment. When only one drug is used, it is called a single agent.
However, different types of chemotherapy drugs attack cancer cells in different
ways. Therefore, more than one drug is often used. A combination regimen
is the use of two or more chemotherapy drugs. A specific drug combination is
called a chemotherapy regimen. The first, or initial, chemotherapy treatment
given is called primary chemotherapy. When given before surgery, it is called
neoadjuvant chemotherapy. When given after surgery, it is called adjuvant
chemotherapy.
Taxanes are a class of chemotherapy drugs that block certain structures
in cancer cells to stop cell growth. Paclitaxel and docetaxel are examples
of taxanes used to treat ovarian cancer. Platinum agents are a class of
chemotherapy drugs that work in a different way. Platinum agents damage the
coded instructions in cancer cells that control how the cells behave to stop them
from growing and dividing. Cisplatin and carboplatin are examples of platinum
agents used to treat ovarian cancer.
Bevacizumab (sold as Avastin
®
) is a targeted therapy drug that is sometimes
added to chemotherapy. Targeted therapy drugs specifically target and kill
cancer cells. Bevacizumab treats ovarian cancer by stopping the growth
of new blood vessels that feed cancer cells.
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