How to follow-up patients with epithelial ovarian cancer

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Purpose of review

Despite optimal primary treatment most patients with advanced epithelial ovarian cancer will relapse. This review discusses the controversy regarding surveillance and the timing of treatment for recurrent disease.

Recent findings

Routine physical examination has a limited role in the detection of recurrent ovarian cancer. PET/computed tomography (CT) has been shown to be useful in detecting small volume disease not apparent on traditional imaging in patients with suspected recurrence based on symptoms and/or rising CA125. The results of PET/CT can alter treatment plans and have particular use in guiding site-directed therapy. The benefits of early detection and systemic treatment of recurrence are now in doubt following the presentation of the MRC/EORTC CA125 surveillance trial. The impact on survival of secondary cytoreductive surgery requires more investigation.


Uncertainties remain in the surveillance and timing of treatment for relapsed disease. Patients should be informed of these uncertainties and become involved in decisions regarding their follow-up.

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