Pre-Surgery Chemotherapy Benefits Ovarian Cancer Patients

Treatment prior to surgery leads to fewer side effects and better quality of life.

Treatment prior to surgery leads to fewer side effects and better quality of life.

Treatment with chemotherapy before surgery for ovarian cancer leads to fewer side effects and a better overall quality of life, according to a recent study.

Published in The Lancet, the trial differs from the international standard for treating advanced ovarian cancer. The trial included 550 ovarian cancer patients, with 276 patients who received the standard surgery followed by 6 chemotherapy cycles, and 274 patients who had surgery following 3 chemotherapy cycles.

The results showed that post-surgery complications and death within 28 days of surgery occurred most frequently in the patients who received surgery first. Patients who underwent pre-surgery chemotherapy suffered fewer symptoms, decreased overall side effects, and had a lower death rate, according to the study.

“The trial showed that shrinking the tumor before surgery reduced side effects and hospital stay -- meaning improved quality of life, without compromising survival, which is better for patients,” study author Sean Kehoe, professor of gynecological cancer at the University of Birmingham, said in a press release. “We are so thankful to the women who took part in the trial and their families, as we couldn't have done this important research without them. Because of their generosity we can improve the lives of others."

Additionally, pre-surgery chemotherapy also decreased the amount of time patients spent in the hospital following surgery.

"This is a great example of how research can help us to plan the best care for people with cancer,” Professor Peter Johnson, chief clinician at Cancer Research UK said in a press release. “Whether to have chemotherapy before major surgery for ovarian cancer has always been a dilemma for women and their surgeons. Thanks to this study we can say that having chemotherapy first makes the surgery safer, the stay in hospital shorter and women's quality of life better. These are important results that will make a big difference to many women in the future."