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Interval debulking surgery is not worth the wait: a National Cancer Database study comparing primary cytoreductive surgery versus neoadjuvant chemotherapy
  1. Yasmin A Lyons1,
  2. Henry D Reyes2,
  3. Megan E McDonald3,
  4. Andreea Newtson3,
  5. Eric Devor3,
  6. David P Bender3,
  7. Michael J Goodheart3 and
  8. Jesus Gonzalez Bosquet3
  1. 1 OBGYN, University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, Iowa City, Iowa, USA
  2. 2 University at Buffalo - The State University of New York, Buffalo, New York, USA
  3. 3 University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, Iowa City, Iowa, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Yasmin A Lyons, OBGYN, University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, Iowa City, IA 52242, USA; yasmin-lyons{at}


Objective In previous studies, neoadjuvant chemotherapy followed by interval debulking surgery was not inferior to primary cytoreductive surgery as initial treatment for advanced epithelial ovarian cancer. Our study aimed to compare surgical and survival outcomes between the two treatments in a large national database.

Methods Data were extracted from the National Cancer Database from January 2004 to December 2015. Patients with FIGO (International Federation of Gynecologists and Obstetricians) stage III-IV epithelial ovarian cancer and known sequence of treatment were included: primary cytoreductive (surgery=26 717 and neoadjuvant chemotherapy=9885). Tubal and primary peritoneal cancer diagnostic codes were not included. Residual disease after treatment was defined based on recorded data: R0 defined as microscopic or no residual disease; R1 defined as macroscopic residual disease. Multivariate Cox proportional HR was used for survival analysis. Multivariate logistic regression analysis was utilized to compare mortality between groups. Outcomes were adjusted for significant covariates. Validation was performed using propensity score matching of significant covariates.

Results A total of 36 602 patients were included in the analysis. Patients who underwent primary cytoreductive surgery had better survival than those treated with neoadjuvant chemotherapy followed by interval surgery, after adjusting for age, co-morbidities, stage, and residual disease (p<0.001). Primary cytoreductive surgery patients with R0 disease had best median survival (62.6 months, 95% CI 60.5–64.5). Neoadjuvant chemotherapy patients with R1 disease had worst median survival (29.5 months, 95% CI 28.4–31.9). There were small survival differences between primary cytoreductive surgery with R1 (38.9 months) and neoadjuvant chemotherapy with R0 (41.8 months) (HR 0.93, 95% CI 0.87 to 1.0), after adjusting for age, co-morbidities, grade, histology, and stage. Neoadjuvant chemotherapy had 3.5 times higher 30-day mortality after surgery than primary cytoreductive surgery (95% CI 2.46 to 5.64). The 90-day mortality was higher for neoadjuvant chemotherapy in multivariate analysis (HR 1.31, 95% CI 1.06 to 1.61) but similar to primary cytoreductive surgery after excluding high-risk patients.

Conclusions Most patients with advanced epithelial ovarian cancer may benefit from primary cytoreductive surgery. Patients treated with neoadjuvant chemotherapy should be those with co-morbidities unfit for surgery.

  • ovarian cancer
  • ovary
  • ovarian diseases
  • ovarian neoplasms

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  • Contributors YAL and JGB made significant contributions to the conception, design, and/or acquisition of data, and/or analysis and interpretation of data. JGB, HDR, MEM, AN, ED, DPB, and MJG participated in drafting the article or revising it for important intellectual content and gave final approval of the version to be submitted.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement Data are available upon reasonable request. The data from our study were extracted from the National Cancer Database repository with permission. The data are available upon request to Jesus Gonzalez Bosquet at

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