Kassondra S. Grzankowski, MD; Michael Carney, MD


Cancer Control. 2011;18(1):52-58. 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


Background: Ovarian cancer and its management interventions can produce significant impairments in health-related quality of life (HRQOL). These effects have been studied in both localized and advanced disease settings.
Methods: The authors assessed research reports that focus on the evaluation of HRQOL in patients with ovarian cancer in order to describe the findings and to suggest approaches that might maintain or maximize the quality of life in these patients.
Results: Evaluation of quality of life and functional impairment can include consideration of several issues such as the effects of the disease and its treatments on symptomatology, systemic therapy effects, the balance between life-prolonging but toxic protocols, and the sexual, psychosocial, social, and financial effects of treatment. The Gynecologic Oncology Group is actively studying these issues in its protocols.
Conclusions: HRQOL evaluation is a valuable measure in optimizing care of patients with ovarian cancer, but more research is needed to make such evaluations sufficiently inexpensive and easy to perform so that they can be more fully incorporated into general oncologic practice.


Conventional endpoints such as survival, time to progression, and response rate have long been the foundation for cancer research, specifically in ovarian cancer. With advances in medical, surgical, and pharmaceutical treatment of ovarian cancer, additional endpoints are now emerging as important aspects of patient care. Quality of life and, more specifically, health-related quality of life (HRQOL), address important aspects of the patient's life including physical, social, psychological, financial, and sexual issues, as well as the side effects of the chemotherapeutic medications that we rely on for treatment.

While functional status and quality of life have been quantified in oncologic practice since the advent of the clinical scale developed by Karnofsky and Burchenal[1] in 1949, interest has increased over the past two decades in the systematic assessment of HRQOL through the use of standardized, self-administered measures for cancer patients, and these measures have become an important focus of benefit for newer treatment regimens.[2] HRQOL assessment is a key factor in evaluating cancer burden and the effects of treatment. HRQOL assessment of women with ovarian cancer has been implemented into patient care in most trials by the Gynecologic Oncology Group (GOG) and is being adapted to standard of care. The benefits of using HRQOL assessment include better patient-caregiver communication and overall improvement of the quality of life.

This article attempts to demonstrate that to achieve optimal treatment of ovarian cancer, HRQOL must be reviewed regularly in patients who are undergoing traditional medical, surgical, and chemotherapeutic treatments.


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