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Primary Chemotherapy: The Future for the Management of Advanced Ovarian Cancer?
  1. Jonathan A. Ledermann, BSc, MD, FRCP
  1. Cancer Research UK and UCL Cancer Centre, UCL Cancer Institute, University College London, London, United Kingdom.
  1. Address correspondence and reprint requests to Jonathan A. Ledermann, BSc, MD, FRCP, Cancer Research UK and UCL Cancer Trials Centre, 90 Tottenham Court Rd, London W1T 4TJ, United Kingdom. E-mail: j.ledermann{at}


Primary surgery for advanced ovarian cancer has been the standard practice for more than 30 years. A survival benefit is principally seen in patients who have optimal cytoreduction with no or small-volume residual disease after surgery. In everyday clinical practice, many patients are not able to undergo optimal tumor debulking. Modern preoperative imaging and assessment can identify most of these patients. Through developments in platinum-based chemotherapy, a high proportion of patients can be expected to respond to primary (neoadjuvant) chemotherapy. A recent clinical trial has shown that the survival of patients with operable disease is not disadvantaged by neoadjuvant chemotherapy followed by surgery. Thus, complete tumor cytoreduction could be achieved in a greater percentage of patients, if primary chemotherapy is used in women in whom optimal primary surgery would be difficult. Furthermore, delayed surgery provides more knowledge about the biological behavior of the tumor, and this could be used to tailor treatment more effectively.

  • Primary chemotherapy
  • Ovarian cancer

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  • The author is in part supported by the University College London and University College London Hospitals Comprehensive Biomedical Research Centre.