Ovarian Cancer: Where You Receive Treatment Matters

For ovarian cancer patients, choosing the right healthcare center can improve treatment outcomes.

A female cancer patient enjoys coffee while looking out a window. Her treatment is going well.

Updated on February 11, 2022.

If you have ovarian cancer, you’ll want to find the best care you can. That may mean looking past the nearest hospital to one with plenty of experience with your cancer type.

Multiple studies have demonstrated that patients with ovarian cancers live longer when they receive treatment at hospitals that regularly treat those types of cancers.

There are a number of reasons why patients may do better at these hospitals:

  • They may receive more meticulous surgery to remove as much of the tumor as possible, plus better postoperative care.
  • They can more easily participate in clinical trials or studies that test the latest treatment options.
  • They have a better chance of being treated by a gynecologic oncologist, a doctor with additional training and experience in treating cancers of the female reproductive organs.
  • Healthcare providers (HCPs) at specialty centers may be more likely to stick to treatment guidelines issued by the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN).
  • HCPs may also be better at coordinating care for these rare, complex cancers.

Practical advice to consider

Take these steps to get the best care possible:

  • Ask to see a specialist.  To access a specialist, you may need to advocate for yourself. Evidence suggests that women who are Black or Hispanic, who live in a rural area, and/or who are of lower socioeconomic status are less likely to get a referral. Alternatively, your HCP may be able to work closely with a specialist.
  • Choose wisely. If you can, travel to a facility where more than 10 to 20 ovarian cancer cases are treated per year, which makes for a "high-volume center." These hospitals are usually academic or research centers with top-notch experts. The National Cancer Institute offers tips on its website about finding a treatment facility that specializes in cancer care.
  • Understand your options. Be sure you know what treatment options make sense for your type of cancer, including surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and immunotherapy. Ask questions and choose HCPs who take the time to answer those questions.
Article sources open article sources

Cowan RA, O'Cearbhaill RE, Gardner GJ, et al. Is It Time to Centralize Ovarian Cancer Care in the United States?. Ann Surg Oncol. 2016;23(3):989-993.
Aranda MA, McGory M, Sekeris E, Maggard M, Ko C, Zingmond DS. Do racial/ethnic disparities exist in the utilization of high-volume surgeons for women with ovarian cancer?. Gynecol Oncol. 2008;111(2):166-172.
Bristow RE, Chang J, Ziogas A, Randall LM, Anton-Culver H. High-volume ovarian cancer care: survival impact and disparities in access for advanced-stage disease. Gynecol Oncol. 2014;132(2):403-410.
Weeks K, Lynch CF, West M, et al. Rural disparities in surgical care from gynecologic oncologists among Midwestern ovarian cancer patients. Gynecol Oncol. 2021;160(2):477-484.

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