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Am J Clin Oncol. 2000 Apr;23(2):107-16.

Analysis of autopsy evaluations of ovarian cancer patients treated at the National Cancer Institute, 1972-1988.

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Medicine Branch, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, Maryland 20892, USA.


Between 1972 and 1988, more than 500 women were treated for ovarian cancer at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland on approved experimental treatment protocols. Of these, 73 underwent autopsy evaluation on the National Cancer Institute campus. We have analyzed the autopsy reports of those individuals to determine the patterns of disease spread at death. By comparison with the literature, the demographics of the cohort did not differ from previously published reports, other than the extent of chemotherapy received antemortem. Median survival of the cohort was 15.6 months (range, 1.7-108.3 months), and median age at diagnosis was 55 years (range, 24-74 years). The median number of treatments regimens received was two (range, 1-6). The pattern of disease spread at autopsy was different from that in previously published work in that there was a higher proportion of patients with disease found in liver parenchyma, lung pleura, and the pericardium. Patients who received cisplatin as part of their initial treatment regimen had a higher incidence of metastases to the adrenal glands, thoracic nodes, bladder, and liver parenchyma, which was not explained by differences in survival. Median survival for patients who received cisplatin as part of their initial therapy was 15.6 months, compared with a median of 15.4 months for patients who did not. These data suggest a changing pattern of disease spread in patients with ovarian cancer receiving aggressive chemotherapy. This may be caused by some effect of platinum-based therapy on the metastatic potential of the tumor.

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