The road to long-term survival: Surgical approach and longitudinal treatments of long-term survivors of advanced-stage serous ovarian cancer

Gynecol Oncol. 2019 Feb;152(2):228-234. doi: 10.1016/j.ygyno.2018.11.007. Epub 2018 Nov 22.


Objective: It is unclear if the types of surgical procedures performed on long-term survivors (LTS) of high-grade serous ovarian carcinoma (HGSOC) contribute to prolonged survival. In this case-control study we review the surgical procedures performed on LTS and describe their individual longitudinal disease courses.

Methods: Women with FIGO stage III-IV high-grade serous cancer of the ovary, fallopian tube or peritoneum were selected from the University of Chicago ovarian cancer database. LTS were those surviving >7 years and controls were short-term survivors (STS) living 1-2 years. Patients with non-serous histology, low grade, and low malignant potential tumors were excluded.

Results: We identified 450 women with stage III/IV HGSOC including 45 LTS and 78 STS. LTS showed a trend towards lower disease burden, yet underwent more aggressive surgical treatment. Interestingly, only 15 LTS (34%) were debulked to microscopic disease and 9 LTS (21%) underwent suboptimal debulking. Two LTS (5%) recurred within 12 months. LTS had heterogeneous clinical courses with 13 (29%) never experiencing a recurrence with 143 months median follow-up and 32 (71%) experiencing a recurrence with 115 months median follow-up. Of the women who recurred, 19 (59%) underwent at least one surgery for recurrence.

Conclusions: Aggressive surgical treatment intended to achieve microscopic disease, primary debulking surgery, preservation of sensitivity to chemotherapy, and recurrence amenable to secondary debulking are associated with long-term survival. However, clinicopathologic data are insufficient to predict long-term survival of HGSOC. Biologic characterization of these patient's tumors likely holds the key to understanding their unusually favorable courses.

Keywords: High grade serous cancer; Long-term survival; Ovarian cancer; Prognostic factors; Surgical treatment.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cancer Survivors*
  • Cystadenocarcinoma, Serous / drug therapy
  • Cystadenocarcinoma, Serous / mortality*
  • Cystadenocarcinoma, Serous / surgery
  • Cystadenocarcinoma, Serous / therapy*
  • Cytoreduction Surgical Procedures
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / mortality
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / mortality*
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / surgery
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / therapy*