Surgical management of recurrent ovarian cancer: the advantage of collaborative surgical management and a multidisciplinary approach

Gynecol Oncol. 2011 Jan;120(1):29-32. doi: 10.1016/j.ygyno.2010.10.008. Epub 2010 Nov 4.


Objective: Primary cytoreductive surgery is well accepted in the initial management of ovarian cancer with a goal of maximal tumor reduction. The role of cytoreductive surgery at disease recurrence is controversial and guidelines are not standardized. We aimed to review cases of women with recurrent ovarian cancer who were collaboratively managed by two teams of oncologic surgeons with different areas of surgical expertise.

Methods: A list of 616 patients with recurrent ovarian cancer from 1995 to 2009 was generated at a single institution. 20 cases of recurrent ovarian cancer were identified that were managed collaboratively. Data collected included date of diagnosis, initial treatment, recurrence date, location and number of sites of recurrence, secondary cytoreductive procedure performed, residual disease after surgery, pre-operative status, post-operative course, and pathologic findings.

Results: Of the 20 cases that fit eligibility criteria, 11 were completely resected, 5 were incompletely resected, and 4 were biopsied only. Median disease-free interval following primary surgery was 18 months (6-147). Median interval from diagnosis to collaborative cytoreduction was 63 months (13-170). Our patients had metastatic disease to the liver (11), lymph nodes (8), the diaphragm (7), other locations including colon, pancreas, lung, adrenal, kidney (9). Two patients had additional miliary disease. All patients underwent joint surgical management by gynecologic and surgical oncologists. There were no deaths in the immediate post-operative period. The 5 year survival rate was 45% following the joint surgical effort, with a median post-collaborative surgery survival duration of 42 months.

Conclusions: Previous studies document survival benefit of surgery for women with recurrent ovarian cancer when there has been a long disease-free interval, localized pelvic or intra-abdominal recurrences and an optimal performance status. Most gynecologic oncologists do not perform extensive liver or diaphragm resections or lymph node excision above the renal vessels; thus, collaboration with a surgical oncologist is a viable option. In this small descriptive study, the feasibility of this reasonably well-tolerated approach, with possible survival benefit, is documented.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cooperative Behavior
  • Disease-Free Survival
  • Female
  • Gynecologic Surgical Procedures / methods
  • Gynecologic Surgical Procedures / standards*
  • Humans
  • Medical Oncology / standards
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / surgery*
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Palliative Care / standards
  • Patient Care Team
  • Retrospective Studies