Evolution of surgical treatment paradigms for advanced-stage ovarian cancer: redefining 'optimal' residual disease

Gynecol Oncol. 2012 May;125(2):483-92. doi: 10.1016/j.ygyno.2012.02.024. Epub 2012 Feb 23.


Over the past 40 years, the survival of patients with advanced ovarian cancer has greatly improved due to the introduction of combination chemotherapy with platinum and paclitaxel as standard front-line treatment and the progressive incorporation of increasing degrees of maximal cytoreductive surgery. The designation of "optimal" surgical cytoreduction has evolved from residual disease ≤ 1 cm to no gross residual disease. There is a growing body of evidence that patients with no gross residual disease have better survival than those with optimal but visible residual disease. In order to achieve this, more radical cytoreductive procedures such as radical pelvic resection and extensive upper abdominal procedures are increasingly performed. However, some investigators still suggest that tumor biology is a major determinant in survival and that optimal surgery cannot fully compensate for tumor biology. The aim of this review is to outline the theoretical rationale and historical evolution of primary cytoreductive surgery, to re-evaluate the preferred surgical objective and procedures commonly required to achieve optimal cytoreduction in the platinum/taxane era based on contemporary evidence, and to redefine the concept of "optimal" residual disease within the context of future surgical developments and analysis of treatment outcomes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Gynecologic Surgical Procedures / methods*
  • Gynecologic Surgical Procedures / standards*
  • Gynecologic Surgical Procedures / trends
  • Humans
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Neoplasm, Residual / pathology
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / surgery*