Women with Ovarian Cancer Receive Optimal Treatment from High-volume Specialists

Cancer Connect

According to an early online publication in the journal Cancer, women with ovarian cancer receive optimal therapy if treated by a gynecologic oncologist who performs a high volume of surgeries for ovarian cancer either in a hospital in which a high volume of these procedures are performed or in a teaching hospital. These results provide further evidence that women with this deadly disease should seek treatment from specialists to improve their chances for survival.

Ovarian cancer is the deadliest form of gynecologic cancer. Initial surgical removal of as much cancer as possible is necessary to obtain optimal outcomes, including short-term and long-term survival. Results from clinical studies continue to indicate that patients with various types of cancers have improved outcomes if treated by surgeons who perform a large volume of surgeries specific to the patients cancer, as well as being treated in a research or teaching-based hospital in which a high volume of the specific procedure is performed. This becomes particularly important when dealing with a type of cancer such as ovarian cancer for which survival rates overall remain suboptimal and outcomes are strongly associated with the competence and expertise of the surgeon who performs the initial surgery.

Researchers from the University of Washington, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the National Cancer Institute (NCI) recently conducted a clinical study to evaluate factors associated with outcomes of surgical treatment among women with ovarian cancer. This study included over 10,000 admissions of women with ovarian cancer who had undergone the surgical removal of cancer. Data was collected from the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project hospital discharge data from nine states from 1999 to 2002. The surgeries were categorized as comprehensive according to the National Institutes of Health Consensus Panel recommendations.

Overall, nearly 67% of women received comprehensive surgery.

Women treated by gynecologic oncologists who performed larger numbers of surgeries for ovarian cancer had significantly improved rates of comprehensive surgical procedures compared to women whose physicians were either obstetrician gynecologists or general surgeons and/or those who performed lower volumes of the surgeries.

Women treated at either hospitals in which a high volume of surgical procedures for ovarian cancer were performed or those treated at obstetrician or gynecologic teaching hospitals had a significantly higher rate of comprehensive surgical procedures compared to women treated at hospitals in which lower volumes of these surgical procedures were performed or those who were treated at non-teaching hospitals.

The researchers concluded, Efforts should be made to ensure that all women with ovarian cancer, especially those in vulnerable populations, have the opportunity to receive care from centers or surgeons with higher comprehensive surgery rates. Women diagnosed with ovarian cancer are encouraged to seek treatment from a gynecologic oncologist who performs a high volume of surgeries for ovarian cancer at either a hospital in which a high volume of these procedures are performed or at teaching hospital.

Reference: Goff B, Matthews B, Larson E, et al. Predictors of comprehensive surgical treatment in patients with ovarian cancer. Cancer. 2007. Early online publication April 9, 2007. DOI: 10.1002/cncr.22604.

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Ovarian Cancer