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Gynecol Oncol. 2003 Jul;90(1):163-9.

Neoadjuvant chemotherapy followed by surgery and adjuvant chemotherapy in patients with primarily unresectable, advanced-stage ovarian cancer.

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Medical Oncology Unit, Centre du Cancer, Université Catholique de Louvain, Brussels, Belgium.



The aim of this review is to report our experience and the feasibility of neoadjuvant chemotherapy in patients with advanced-stage ovarian cancer.


Forty-five patients with primarily unresectable advanced-stage epithelial ovarian cancer were treated in our center between 1995 and 2002 by platinum-based neoadjuvant chemotherapy followed by surgery and adjuvant chemotherapy. Their files were reviewed retrospectively.


At the end of neoadjuvant chemotherapy, according to RECIST criteria, 1 patient (2.2%) had achieved a clinical complete response (CR), 33 (73.4%) a partial response (PR), and 8 (17.8%) had stable disease (SD). Only 3 (6.6%) patients showed disease progression (PD). Surgery was performed in patients with objective response or SD after a median number of 4 courses (range: 2-6) of induction chemotherapy. A complete macroscopic debulking was achieved in 24 (53.3%) out of 39 patients in whom cytoreductive surgery was performed. For the entire group, median overall survival was 29 months. Survival was significantly improved in patients with optimal debulking compared to patients with persistent tumor after surgery: 41 months versus 23 months (P = 0.0062). Median survival for patients responding to neoadjuvant chemotherapy (CR and PR) was 44 months compared to 27 months for patients with SD or PD after initial chemotherapy (P = 0.01). Neither treatment-related deaths nor significant toxicities were observed.


Neoadjuvant chemotherapy followed by optimal debulking may be a safe and valuable treatment alternative in patients with primarily unresectable advanced-stage bulky ovarian cancer. Patients with an objective response to chemotherapy or absence of macroscopic residual tumor after surgery have a better outcome. This approach is currently being tested in large, prospective randomized clinical trials.

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