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  • Writer's pictureWomen's Cancer Research Foundation

When Ovarian Cancer Returns, Surgery May Be a Good Choice for Selected Patients

Updated: Jan 12


In many patients with ovarian cancer, the disease eventually recurs after initial treatment with surgery and chemotherapy. When ovarian cancer does recur, patients may have additional surgery to remove as much of the cancer as possible before starting chemotherapy again.

However, it is unclear whether this additional or secondary surgery improves patient survival.

Not all patients can tolerate a secondary surgery.

A recent clinical trial revealed that a secondary surgery followed by chemotherapy can improve survival compared to chemotherapy alone. The DESKTOP III clinical trial enrolled 407 people with recurrent ovarian cancer, nearly all of whom had received chemotherapy after their initial diagnosis. All participants were treated at specialized medical centers. The subjects were randomly assigned to receive either surgery followed by chemotherapy or chemotherapy alone. The patients in the surgery and chemotherapy group lived for a median of 54 months after starting treatment, compared with 46 months in the chemotherapy alone group.

Although not all patients can tolerate a secondary surgery, the results of the DESKTOP III study indicate that surgery should be considered when endeavoring to achieve the best results in the management of recurrent ovarian cancer.

More Ovarian Cancer Information:

About Women’s Cancer Research Foundation

The Women’s Cancer Research Foundation (WCRF) is one of the most active research organizations in the nation. We are dedicated to studying and evaluating novel treatments for women afflicted with breast, ovarian, endometrial, and cervical cancers. The WCRF persistently endeavors to make a difference in women’s lives by offering them hope, strength, and progress.

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