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Eur J Cancer. 2016 May;59:22-33. doi: 10.1016/j.ejca.2016.01.017. Epub 2016 Mar 19.

Phase III randomised clinical trial comparing primary surgery versus neoadjuvant chemotherapy in advanced epithelial ovarian cancer with high tumour load (SCORPION trial): Final analysis of peri-operative outcome.

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Division of Minimally Invasive Gynecological Surgery, St. Maria Hospital, University of Perugia, Terni, Italy. Electronic address:
Division of Gynecologic Oncology, Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, Rome, Italy.
Department of Medicine and Aging Sciences, University "G. d'Annunzio" of Chieti-Pescara, Italy.
Division of Gynecologic Oncology, Foundation for Research and Care "Giovanni Paolo II", Catholic University of the Sacred Heart and University of Molise, Campobasso, Italy.



To establishing whether neoadjuvant chemotherapy (NACT) followed by interval debulking surgery (IDS) is superior primary debulking surgery (PDS) in terms of clinical outcome as well as peri-operative morbidity in advanced epithelial ovarian cancer (AEOC) endowed with high tumour load (HTL).


This is a single-Institution, superiority, randomised phase III trial enrolling supposed AEOC women. Patients considered pre-operatively eligible were triaged to staging laparoscopy to assess the predictive index (PI) of tumour load. All AEOC women with PI≥8 or≤12 (considered as HTL) were included. They were randomly assigned (1:1 ratio) to undergo either PDS followed by systemic adjuvant chemotherapy (arm A, standard), or NACT followed by IDS (NACT/IDS) (arm B, experimental). Co-primary outcome measures were postoperative complications (graded according to the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center surgical secondary events grading system) and progression free survival (PFS); secondary outcomes were overall survival, and quality of life (QoL). QoL was assessed using the EORTC QoL questionnaires. A sample size of 110 patients was required for the analysis of the first co-primary end-point (major peri-operative morbidity) whereas recruitment is still on-going to achieve the statistical power on PFS.


Between October 2011 and November 2014, we registered 280 AEOC. Of the 110 eligible women, 55 were assigned to arm A and 55 to arm B. Despite different extension of surgery, rates of complete residual disease (residual tumour=0 cm) were superimposable between the groups (45.5% versus 57.7%; p=0.206). Twenty-nine patients (52.7%) in arm A experienced early grade III-IV complications versus three patients (5.7%) in IDS (p=0.0001). The most common complication was grade III and consisted of symptomatic pleural effusion requiring thoracic drainage (17/55 women (30.9%) in arm A versus 1/52 (1.9%) in arm B, p=0.0001). Three grade IV (5.4%) (i.e., two re-operations for postoperative haemorrhage and one septic multi-organ failure), and two grade V (3.6%) (two deaths for acute cardiopulmonary failure) early complications were observed in arm A only. Mean QoL scores of several scales/items were shown to ameliorate over time in both arms. Emotional functioning, cognitive functioning, nausea/vomiting, dyspnoea, insomnia and hair loss were statistically and clinically better in NACT/IDS compared to PDS arm.


Perioperative moderate/severe morbidity as well as QoL scores were shown to be more favourable in NACT/IDS arm than PDS in AEOC patients with very HTL. Completion of patient enrolment and analysis of survival data will clarify whether PDS with such a high rate of severe complications is an acceptable treatment in AEOC women with HTL.


Advanced ovarian cancer; Cytoreduction; Laparoscopy; Peri-operative complications; Quality of life; Randomised clinical trial

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