Background: Ovarian cancer and its management interventions can produce significant impairments in health-related quality of life (HRQOL). These effects have been studied in both localized and advanced disease settings.
Methods: The authors assessed research reports that focus on the evaluation of HRQOL in patients with ovarian cancer in order to describe the findings and to suggest approaches that might maintain or maximize the quality of life in these patients.
Results: Evaluation of quality of life and functional impairment can include consideration of several issues such as the effects of the disease and its treatments on symptomatology, systemic therapy effects, the balance between life-prolonging but toxic protocols, and the sexual, psychosocial, social, and financial effects of treatment. The Gynecologic Oncology Group is actively studying these issues in its protocols.
Conclusions: HRQOL evaluation is a valuable measure in optimizing care of patients with ovarian cancer, but more research is needed to make such evaluations sufficiently inexpensive and easy to perform so that they can be more fully incorporated into general oncologic practice.