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Ned Tijdschr Geneeskd. 2004 May 1;148(18):874-8.

[Adjuvant chemotherapy in patients operated on for early ovarian carcinoma].

[Article in Dutch]

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Leids Universitair Medisch Centrum, afd. Gynaecologie/K6-19, Postbus 9600, 2300 RC Leiden.


The desirability of adjuvant chemotherapy in patients with early ovarian carcinoma, i.e. a carcinoma limited to the internal genitalia (FIGO stage I-IIA), has long been controversial. Until recently, the few randomised studies that had been performed showed no improvement in survival after adjuvant chemotherapy, but the numbers of patients were too low to yield convincing proof. Complete surgical staging in patients with early ovarian carcinoma is of utmost importance to define the stage of the disease. In case of inadequate staging, there is a 24% risk (range 16-46%) that undetected tumour deposits will remain in the abdominal cavity following surgery, so that the estimated stage will be too low. The combined results of the two largest randomised clinical trials on early ovarian carcinoma to date have recently been published: the 'Adjuvant chemotherapy in ovarian neoplasm' (ACTION) trial, coordinated by the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC), and the 'International collaboration in ovarian neoplasm' (ICON-1) trial; they showed a significant benefit from adjuvant chemotherapy on overall and progression-free survival in early ovarian cancer. The ACTION trial (448 patients), however, also showed that adjuvant chemotherapy only improved the overall and disease-free survival significantly in inadequately staged patients. In the patients who had undergone optimal surgical staging, adjuvant chemotherapy had no effect on the prognosis. In the ICON-1 study (477 patients) there was a favourable effect of adjuvant chemotherapy in the whole population. Analysis of this trial, however, shows that most probably only a very small percentage of these patients had undergone optimal surgical staging. Based on the published results, the best policy for the treatment of patients with early ovarian cancer is felt to be to make every effort to achieve optimal surgical staging and to reserve the burdensome adjuvant chemotherapy for those patients in whom optimal (re)staging is not feasible.

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