Diagnosis and Management of Epithelial Ovarian Cancer
Epithelial ovarian cancer is the leading cause of death from gynecologic cancer in the United States. Although there has been a statistically significant improvement in 5-year survival, in 2005 more than 16,000 women were expected to die of this disease. To date, there is no reliable method to screen for ovarian cancer; therefore, the majority of cases are diagnosed with advanced disease. For early ovarian cancer, appropriate surgical staging and adjuvant chemotherapy for selected cases will result in survival rates of 90–95%. For advanced ovarian cancer, survival depends primarily on the success of the initial surgical procedure. Patients with complete cytoreduction to microscopic disease are often cured with adjuvant chemotherapy. There is growing evidence that these patients with microscopic residual disease are excellent candidates for intraperitoneal chemotherapy, and this mode of chemotherapy delivery may be their best opportunity for cure. Patients with optimal cytoreduction also may benefit from intraperitoneal chemotherapy, but cure is less likely. For patients with suboptimal cytoreduction, intravenous chemotherapy with a combination of carboplatin and paclitaxel is the current standard therapy. Most of these patients will experience recurrence of the cancer, with small chance of cure. Salvage chemotherapy is important in ovarian cancer because many patients respond to several salvage regimens. Because of the high response rate of ovarian cancer, even after relapse, it is probably better to consider 10-year survival as the ideal end point. Finally, new biologic agents, in combination with traditional surgery and chemotherapy, may result in further improvement in survival for patients with ovarian cancer.