Surveillance procedures for patients treated for epithelial ovarian cancer: a review of the literature

Int J Gynecol Cancer. 2007 Jan-Feb;17(1):21-31. doi: 10.1111/j.1525-1438.2007.00826.x.


Epithelial ovarian cancer is the leading cause of death from gynecological cancer in the Western countries. Approximately 20%-30% of patients with early-stage disease and 50%-75% of those with advanced disease who obtain a complete response following first-line chemotherapy will ultimately develop recurrent disease, which more frequently involves the pelvis and abdomen. Few formal guidelines exist regarding the surveillance of these patients, and there is no agreement in the literature about the type and timing of examinations to perform. Moreover, the objective of follow-up is unclear as recurrent epithelial ovarian cancer continues to be a therapeutic dilemma and quite all the relapsed patients will eventually die of their disease. The follow-up of asymptomatic patients generally include complete clinical history, serum cancer antigen (CA)125 assay, physical examination, and often ultrasound examination, whereas additional radiologic imaging techniques are usually performed when symptoms or signs appear. (18)Fluoro-2-deoxy-glucose ((18)FDG)-positron emission tomography (PET) has a sensitivity of 90% and a specificity of 85% approximately for the detection of recurrent disease, and this examination appears to be particularly useful for the diagnosis of recurrence when CA125 levels are rising and conventional imaging is inconclusive or negative. Recently, technologic advances have led to novel combined (18)FDG-PET/computed tomography (CT) devices, which perform contemporaneous acquisition of both (18)FDG-PET and CT images. The role of (18)FDG-PET/CT for the detection of recurrent ovarian cancer is very promising, and this technique may be especially useful for the selection of patients with late recurrent disease who may benefit from secondary cytoreductive surgery.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • CA-125 Antigen / blood
  • Female
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / blood
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / pathology
  • Positron-Emission Tomography
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed


  • CA-125 Antigen
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18