Objective: Accurate estimation of the risk of postoperative mortality (POM) is essential for the decision whether or not to perform cytoreductive surgery in a patient with advanced stage ovarian cancer. To ascertain modern reference figures, a systematic review of studies reporting POM after primary cytoreductive surgery for advanced stage epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC) was performed.
Materials and methods: A Medline search was performed to retrieve papers on primary cytoreductive surgery for advanced stage EOC. Twenty-three papers met the inclusion criteria and were reviewed.
Results: According to population-based studies, POM after primary cytoreductive surgery for EOC is 3.7% on average. Single centre studies report an average rate of 2.5%. The overall mean POM is 2.8%. POM is more frequent for elderly women and after extensive procedures. Accurate information on age-specific and procedure-specific rates could not be obtained.
Conclusion: POM rates after surgery for EOC are satisfactorily low. There is a clear need for reliable reference figures for mortality after debulking surgery in the elderly.