Wanna Get Away? Maintenance Treatments and Chemotherapy Holidays in Gynecologic Cancers

Am Soc Clin Oncol Educ Book. 2019 Jan;39:e152-e166. doi: 10.1200/EDBK_238755. Epub 2019 May 17.


Epithelial ovarian cancer has a very high rate of relapse after primary therapy; historically approximately 70% of patients with a complete clinical response to surgery and adjuvant chemotherapy will relapse and die of the disease. Although this number has slowly improved, cure rates remain less than 50%. As such, maintenance therapy with the aim of preventing or delaying disease relapse and the goal of improving overall survival has been the subject of intense study. Numerous earlier studies with agents ranging from radioactive phosphorus to extended frontline therapy or to monthly taxol administration demonstrated encouraging improvements in progression-free survival (PFS) only to find, disappointingly, no benefit in overall survival. In addition, the PFS advantage of maintenance therapy was associated with disconcerting side effects such that maintenance therapy was not adapted as standard of care. Studies with bevacizumab and PARP inhibitors have demonstrated a PFS advantage with a manageable side-effect profile. However, an overall survival advantage remains unclear, and the use of these approaches thus remains controversial. Furthermore, in recurrent disease, the length of chemotherapy and benefits of extended chemotherapy is unclear. Thus, additional trials assessing maintenance strategies in ovarian and other gynecologic malignancies are needed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / adverse effects
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / therapeutic use*
  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Chemotherapy, Adjuvant
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Consolidation Chemotherapy
  • Drug Resistance, Neoplasm
  • Female
  • Genital Neoplasms, Female / diagnosis
  • Genital Neoplasms, Female / drug therapy*
  • Genital Neoplasms, Female / etiology
  • Genital Neoplasms, Female / mortality
  • Humans
  • Maintenance Chemotherapy
  • Molecular Targeted Therapy
  • Recurrence
  • Research Design
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Biomarkers, Tumor