According to an article recently published in Gynecologic Oncology, patients under 55 years of age with Stages IC–II ovarian cancer were more likely to receive chemotherapy if they received treatment from a gynecologic oncologist.
Ovarian cancer remains the most deadly of all gynecologic cancers. If detected and treated early, patients with this disease have optimal chances for survival. However, once the disease has spread or recurred, survival rates drop dramatically.
Perhaps one of the most important aspects of therapy for early-stage ovarian cancer is the extent to which the cancer can be surgically removed. After surgery, survival for some patients can be improved with the addition of chemotherapy. Following surgery, the chemotherapy kills cancer cells that may have remained in the body and are undetectable with standard screening methods. The benefits of chemotherapy following surgery, however, do not apply to patients whose cancer is in its earliest stages or who are unable to tolerate chemotherapy.
Results from studies have restated the fact that patients with ovarian cancer tend to have better outcomes if they are treated by gynecologic specialists, such as gynecologic oncologists or gynecologic surgeons with extensive experience in the surgical removal of ovarian cancer. In an effort to further improve healthcare outcomes, researchers continue to evaluate outcomes associated with care given by specific types of physicians.
Researchers from California recently conducted a clinical study to evaluate patterns among physicians when treating patients with Stages IC–II ovarian cancer. This study included 135 patients who were 55 years or younger and included data obtained from the California Cancer Registry from 1994 to 1996.
- 21.5% of patients did not receive chemotherapy, which is specified in treatment guidelines for patients with this stage of ovarian cancer.
- Patients who were treated by gynecologic oncologists were significantly more likely to have received chemotherapy compared with those not treated by a gynecologic oncologist.
- Patients residing in poor neighborhoods were also less likely to have received chemotherapy.
The researchers concluded that a significant portion of patients with Stage IC-II ovarian cancer do not receive chemotherapy, as specified by treatment guidelines. The two factors that were associated with not receiving chemotherapy were treatment by a physician other than a gynecologic oncologist and living in a poor neighborhood.
Patients with ovarian cancer may wish to speak with their physician regarding their individual risks and benefits of all treatment options.
Reference: Chan J, Kapp D, Shin J, et al. Factors associated with the suboptimal treatment of women less than 55 years of age with early-stage ovarian cancer. Gynecologic Oncology. 2008;108: 95-99.