Radical Surgery for Ovarian Cancer May Improve Survival

Radical Surgery for Ovarian Cancer May Improve Survival

According to an article recently published in the Journal of Surgical Oncology, patients with advanced ovarian cancer may achieve long-term survival when undergoing radical surgery and intraperitoneal chemotherapy. Future trials that directly compare these treatment methods will reveal more about clinical outcomes among patients with this disease.

The two ovaries are located in the female pelvis and are responsible for storing and releasing eggs. Advanced ovarian cancer refers to cancer that had spread from the ovaries to other areas of the body. One area to which ovarian cancer spreads is the abdomen and peritoneum. (The peritoneum is a lining of the abdomen and abdominal organs.)

Surgeons attempt to remove as much cancer as possible when treating ovarian cancer because a smaller amount of cancer left in the body (residual cancer) is associated with improved survival. Researchers have recently been evaluating the potential benefits of radical surgery among patients with advanced ovarian cancer; this procedure can remove even undetectable cancer cells.

Intraperitoneal chemotherapy refers to a technique in which chemotherapy is administered directly into the abdominal cavity. The theory behind intraperitoneal chemotherapy is that chemotherapy is delivered to the site of the cancer before being metabolized and broken down through metabolic processes. Hyperthermic intraoperative chemotherapy (HIIC) involves heating of tissues to aid the uptake of chemotherapy into the tissues.

Researchers from Spain recently conducted a study to evaluate radical surgery and HIIC for the treatment of patients with advanced ovarian cancer. This study included 19 patients who were recently diagnosed and 14 patients with recurrent ovarian cancer. All had cancer spread to the peritoneum. Patients underwent radical surgery, including the removal of the peritoneum, and HIIC with the chemotherapy agent Taxol® (paclitaxel).

  • Patients with no or minimal residual cancer had a survival rate of 63% at five years following therapy for patients with recurrent ovarian cancer and 60% at five years for those who were just diagnosed with advanced ovarian cancer.
  • Patients who had no cancer spread to lymph nodes had improved outcomes.

The researchers concluded that radical surgery including the removal of the peritoneum followed by HIIC results in impressive survival among patients with advanced ovarian cancer. Patients with advanced ovarian cancer may wish to speak with their physician about their individual risks and benefits of radical surgery and HIIC.

Reference: Rufian S, Munoz-Casares F, Briceno J, et al. Radical Surgery-Peritonectomy and Intraoperative Intraperitoneal Chemotherapy for the Treatment of Peritoneal Carcinomatosis in Recurrent or Primary Ovarian Cancer. Journal of Surgical Oncology. 2006; 94: 316-324.

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