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Gynecol Oncol. 2003 May;89(2):306-13.

Palliative surgery for bowel obstruction in recurrent ovarian cancer:an updated series.

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  • 1Gynecology Service, Department of Surgery, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, 1275 York Avenue, New York, NY 10021, USA.



Intestinal obstruction is a frequent sequela of recurrent ovarian cancer. Previous series report median survivals of 3-6 months in patients undergoing surgery for obstruction due to recurrent disease. We analyze a contemporary series of patients to determine if outcomes have changed in patients undergoing palliative surgery.


We retrospectively reviewed all patients undergoing surgery for intestinal obstruction due to recurrent ovarian cancer from 1994 to 1999.


During the study period, 68 operations were performed on 64 patients. Mean age at the time of obstruction was 57.3 years. Mean time from original diagnosis of ovarian cancer to obstruction was 2.8 years. Surgical correction (intestinal surgery performed for relief of obstruction) was attained in 57 of 68 (84%) cases. Successful palliation (the ability to tolerate a regular or low-residue diet at least 60 days postoperatively) was achieved in 71% of cases where surgical correction was possible. The rate of major surgical morbidity was 22%. There was one death from pulmonary embolus and one from peritonitis. Two other deaths occurred due to progression of disease, for an overall perioperative mortality rate of 6%. Postoperative chemotherapy was administered in 45 of 57 (79%) cases where surgical correction was possible. The median survival of the entire cohort was 8 months. If surgery resulted in successful palliation, median survival was 11.6 months, versus 3.9 months for all other patients (P <.01).


The majority of our patients undergoing surgery had successful palliation, and were able to receive further chemotherapy. They were discharged home, and could tolerate solid food.

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