Treatments for borderline malignancy ovarian tumours

The following are treatment options for the stages of borderline malignancy ovarian cancer. Your healthcare team will suggest treatments based on your needs and work with you to develop a treatment plan.

Early stage borderline malignancy tumours

Surgery is the main treatment for early stage (stages 1 and 2) borderline malignancy ovarian cancer. The types of surgery done will depend on whether you want to get pregnant in the future.

The following may be offered to women who want to have children in the future:

  • removing only the ovary with cancer and the fallopian tube on the same side (unilateral salpingo-oophorectomy)
  • removing only the part of ovary with the cyst containing the tumour (cystectomy or partial oophorectomy)
The following surgeries do not allow you to have children in the future:
  • removing both ovaries and fallopian tubes (bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy)
  • removing the uterus, both ovaries and both fallopian tubes (total hysterectomy and bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy)
During surgery, the surgeon also removes abnormal-looking tissue samples from different parts of the pelvis, abdomen and lymph nodes. These samples are then analyzed in the lab to find out if the cancer has spread. This part of surgery is called surgical staging.

Advanced stage borderline malignancy ovarian tumours

Surgery is the main treatment for advanced stage (stages 3 and 4) borderline malignancy ovarian cancer. The types of surgery are:

  • total hysterectomy and bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy
  • surgical debulking (removing as much of the cancer as possible)
During surgery, the surgeon also removes abnormal-looking tissue samples from different parts of the pelvis, abdomen and lymph nodes. These samples are then analyzed in the lab to find out if the cancer has spread. This part of surgery is called surgical staging.

Further treatment with chemotherapy or radiation therapy is usually not given.

Recurrent stage borderline malignancy ovarian tumours

Recurrent borderline malignancy ovarian cancer means that the cancer has come back after it has been treated. Your healthcare team will suggest treatments based on your needs and work with you to develop a treatment plan.

Surgery is the main treatment for recurrent borderline malignancy ovarian cancer. Debulking surgery is done to remove as much of the tumour as possible.

Chemotherapy with carboplatin (Paraplatin, Paraplatin AQ) or cisplatin combined with other drugs such as paclitaxel (Taxol) may be given after surgery.

If you can't have or don't want cancer treatment

You may want to consider a type of care to make you feel better without treating the cancer itself. This may be because the cancer treatments don't work anymore, they're not likely to improve your condition or they may cause side effects that are hard to cope with. There may also be other reasons why you can't have or don't want cancer treatment.

Talk to your healthcare team. They can help you choose care and treatment for advanced cancer.

Clinical trials

Some clinical trials in Canada are open to women with ovarian cancer. Clinical trials look at new ways to prevent, find and treat cancer. Find out more about clinical trials.

Expert review and references

  • Tien Le, MD, FRCSC, DABOG
  • Saul Offman, MD
  • American Cancer Society. Ovarian Cancer. 2014: http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/cid/documents/webcontent/003130-pdf.pdf.
  • Cannistra SA, Gershenson DM, Recht A . Ovarian cancer, fallopian tube carcinoma, and peritoneal carcinoma. DeVita VT Jr, Lawrence TS, Rosenberg SA. Cancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology. 10th ed. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer Health/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2015: 76: 1075-1099.
  • Eskander RN, Diaz-Montes TP, Vang R, Armstrong DK, Bristow RE . Borderline tumors and other rare epithelial tumors of the ovary. Raghavan D, Blanke CD, Honson DH, et al (eds.). Textbook of Uncommon Cancer. 4th ed. Wiley Blackwell; 2012: 35: 497-506.
  • National Cancer Institute. Ovarian Low Malignant Potential Tumors Cancer Treatment for Health Professionals (PDQ®). 2015: https://www.cancer.gov/types/ovarian/hp/ovarian-low-malignant-treatment-pdq#section/all.