Maintenance and Recurrence

Maintenance and Recurrence Mobile

Recurrent Ovarian cancer & Maintenance therapy

Living with Ovarian Cancer

Every year, approximately 20,000 individuals are newly diagnosed with ovarian cancer in the USand each of their experiences will be unique. While some will be diagnosed in early stages, many will receive the diagnosis when the cancer is considered advanced.

For some, the cancer may respond to initial treatment with chemotherapy and the time in remission may last for years,1,2 but for the majority of patients, the cancer comes back,3 either in the same area as the original cancer or somewhere else in the body.This is called a recurrence.5

Unfortunately recurrence in ovarian cancer is common. Patients with advanced ovarian cancer face an 85 percent likelihood of recurrence after their initial chemotherapy treatment and once ovarian cancer recurs, it is considered incurable.6

This is why no matter the stage of ovarian cancer, it’s critical that certain patients and their loved ones understand their options when it comes to navigating treatment. For patients who have responded to platinum-based chemotherapy, maintenance therapy is an available option that may delay the time before the cancer returns.7

Thinking about the possibility of recurrence can cause anxiety and worry. It can leave patients feeling uncertain about what to do next, even if they are in remission with no evidence of disease. Understanding what recurrence means is an important step in choosing the right treatment plan for them and managing the decisions and emotions that come along with it.

Once an individual is diagnosed with advanced ovarian cancer, the objective is clear: to delay the time before a future recurrence.

After a patient has been treated with chemotherapy and her disease has responded (partially or completely), there are two different treatment approaches to take: observe the disease, also referred to as “watch and wait,” or for certain patients, maintenance therapy may help delay cancer before it progresses or returns.

Advanced ovarian cancer treatment options are available


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In certain patients, maintenance therapy has been shown to help delay recurrence for those with the disease, regardless of genetic characteristics (BRCA and HRD).8

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There have been important therapeutic advancements for those impacted by advanced ovarian cancer, both at initial treatment and upon recurrence.8

Observation or “Watch and wait” - more treatment options are available

Previously, the only option for patients after their cancer fully or partially responded to chemotherapy was to observe the disease, or “watch and wait”to see if it came back. This approach involves regular doctor visits for tests to monitor disease, rather than taking medicine.9 Today, those impacted by ovarian cancer have more choices than to "watch and wait" for the disease to return. It is important to discuss options with your doctor, to initiate maintenance therapy early when facing the disease.

Maintenance therapy has been shown to help delay the cancer from recurring

While observation or “watch and wait” was previously the only standard practice, there are more options available for physicians and patients with ovarian cancer, such as maintenance therapy, which could be a proactive approach to managing the disease. Maintenance therapy is an effective option early in the course of treatment to help delay recurrence for those who have achieved a complete or partial response to platinum-based chemotherapy.10

Maintenance therapy may help delay the time before the cancer returns, also known as progression-free survival (PFS). Studies show that compared to observation or "watch and wait," the use of maintenance therapy after initial treatment with chemotherapy reduced the risk of disease progression by 28%-70%.11,12

If you or a loved one are facing advanced ovarian cancer, talk to a healthcare professional about maintenance therapy.


Without Maintenance, PFS Shortens With Each Recurrence11

Chart depicting the median time between each recurrence of ovarian cancer with treatment of chemotherapy and observation

PFS, progression-free survival.

PFS was calculated from the day of first cycle of chemotherapy to the first disease progression; thereafter, it was calculated from the progression to subsequent progression or death.11

Maintenance Therapy options

There are currently 2 FDA-approved classes of maintenance therapy available for patients with ovarian cancer:

Poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) inhibitors12,13:

  • PARP is a protein that helps repair damaged DNA in cells 
  • A PARP inhibitor may prevent cancer cells from repairing their damaged DNA, which can cause them to die. This may slow the return or progression of cancer. It can also impact other cells and tissues in the body. Learn more about a PARP inhibitor treatment option, also known as maintenance therapy.

Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) inhibitors14:

  • Normal cells make VEGF, but some cancer cells make too much VEGF
  • Blocking VEGF may prevent the growth of new blood vessels, including normal blood vessels and blood vessels that feed tumors

Companies are also researching other combinations of maintenance therapy options, including:

  • PARP inhibitors in combinations with other biological drugs15
  • Immunotherapy combination regimens16

Talk to your doctor about the possibility of extending your time in response and to understand if a maintenance treatment option is right for you.

Starting a conversation

The questions below can help kick-off meaningful discussions about maintenance and recurrence with your healthcare team.

  • Why would my cancer recur?
  • What treatment options exist after I respond to chemotherapy?
  • What are my chances of recurrence, and are there treatment options available that may help to delay the cancer from returning?
  • Could maintenance therapy be right for me?
  • What do I need to know about maintenance therapy? How do they work?
  • Are there symptoms I should look for that would signal a recurrence?
  • How frequently should I come in for check-in visits to monitor my disease?

Want more help starting discussions with your healthcare team?

Download the Ovarian Cancer Discussion Guide