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Gynecol Oncol. 2002 May;85(2):351-5.

The benefits of comprehensive surgical staging in the management of early-stage epithelial ovarian carcinoma.

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  • 1Division of Gynecologic Oncology, Dept. of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences, University of Saskatchewan, Royal University Hospital, 103 Hospital Drive, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada S7N 0W8. letien@duke.usask.ca



The management of understaged patients with apparent clinically early ovarian cancer is difficult. Options include offering chemotherapy based on histopathologic factors or reoperation to obtain the necessary information needed to assign an accurate surgical stage. This study aims to compare these two approaches and to define the role of staging surgery in this common patient population.


Retrospective chart reviews were carried out at the Universities of Manitoba and Saskatchewan over the period 1975 to 1999. Demographic data and surgical findings were abstracted and entered into a computerized database for analysis. Patients not having surgical staging procedures were offered platinum-based chemotherapy based on high tumor grades, dense adhesions, and presence of surface excrescences or large necrotic areas. Patients with surgically proven stage I disease were treated with no further therapy regardless of histopathologic factors. Descriptive statistics are used to summarize the data. Logistic and Cox regression models are used to identify significant predicting factors for recurrences and progression-free intervals.


One hundred and thirty-eight patients presented with tumor macroscopically confined to the ovary at the time of laparotomy. The median age at presentation is 56.5 (18-90). The histology distribution was serous tumor in 28.3%, mucinous in 26.1%, endometrioid in 23.2%, clear cell in 14.5%, anaplastic in 2.2%, and mixed types in 5.8%. The grade distribution was 47.1% grade 1, 27.5% Grade 2, and 25.4% Grade 3. Sixty-eight percent of the patients had a comprehensive surgical staging procedure initially. Thirty-six percent of these patients were found to have extraovarian metastases and were subsequently treated with adjuvant chemotherapy. Forty-three percent of those not having staging laparotomy were offered chemotherapy based on high risk factors only. At a median follow-up of 58 months. 77% of patients remained disease-free and 23% had recurrent disease. Of 60 patients with surgically proven stage I treated expectantly, 6 (10%) recurred, whereas of 25 unstaged patients treated expectantly due to lack of risk factors 7 (28%) recurred (P = 0.036). In patients treated expectantly, a significant survival advantage was noted in the staged group. Logistic regression showed age (OR 1.032, P = 0.043), high grade (OR 4.16, P = 0.003), and lack of a proper staging surgery (OR 2.62, P = 0.032) to be important factors predicting recurrence. In terms of progression-free interval, only age (OR 1.027, P = 0.048) and tumor grade (OR 3.62, P = 0.05) are significant predictors.


Absence of surgical pathologic high-risk factors is inferior to comprehensive staging laparotomy findings in guiding recommendations for subsequent adjuvant therapy. Patients who have not been properly staged stand a significant risk of recurrent disease despite more frequent use of chemotherapy. All clinically early-stage ovarian cancer patients should be considered for comprehensive staging surgery prior to further treatment recommendations.

(c) 2002 Elsevier Science (USA).

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