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Curr Opin Obstet Gynecol. 2007 Feb;19(1):15-21.

Cytoreductive surgery for recurrent ovarian cancer.

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  • 1Division of Gynecologic Oncology, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada.



The issue facing clinicians managing ovarian cancer has evolved over the past three decades from treatment for cure and subsequently palliation, to prolongation of survival for most patients. The purpose of this paper is to review the data, rationale, and issues surrounding cytoreductive surgery in recurrent ovarian cancer and its potential role in this new paradigm shift.


Abundant retrospective series report prolongation of survival with secondary cytoreductive surgery in recurrent ovarian cancer. Selection bias, publication bias, and subsequent therapies, however, are confounding factors for survival. As management of ovarian cancer has recently evolved to a treatment of a 'chronic disease', surgery (which has a definite role in primary therapy) should be considered.


No prospective randomized studies have been performed to date, and therefore adoption of this method of management has been limited. The absence of good data leaves clinicians without clear direction on how to best manage patients. Patients with favorable characteristics such as a long disease-free interval, good performance status, a single or few small intra-abdominal recurrences may benefit from secondary cytoreduction. A prospective randomized study is needed.

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