What is the role of interval debulking in the treatment of ovarian cancer?

Updated: Aug 10, 2020
  • Author: Andrew E Green, MD; Chief Editor: Yukio Sonoda, MD  more...
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Interval debulking can be performed in patients whose cancer was not adequately debulked at the time of initial surgery. It should also be considered in those patients in whom an initial debulking surgery was not attempted.

Patients receive three cycles of postoperative chemotherapy. Approximately 60% of patients are then able to undergo optimal resection. Surgical treatment is followed by three more cycles of chemotherapy.

A prospective, randomized, clinical trial conducted in Europe demonstrated that this approach improves the outcome of patients with advanced ovarian cancer. [60] However, this was not confirmed in a study conducted in the United States. [61] A major difference between both studies was the extent of the initial debulking procedure. In the US study, initial optimal debulking was attempted in all patients. A meta-analysis found no conclusive evidence regarding the possible survival benefit of interval debulking but noted apparent benefit only in patients whose primary surgery was not performed by gynecologic oncologists or was less extensive. [62]

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