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Tumor biology and impact on timing of surgery in advanced epithelial ovarian cancer
  1. Irina Tsibulak1 and
  2. Christina Fotopoulou2
  1. 1Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Medical University of Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria
  2. 2Department of Surgery and Cancer, Imperial College London Faculty of Medicine, London, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Irina Tsibulak, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Medical University of Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria; Irina.tsibulak{at}


Recent advances in epithelial ovarian cancer research have led to a shift in treatment strategy from the traditional ‘organ-centric’ to a personalized tumor biology-based approach. Nevertheless, we are still far behind an individualized approach for cytoreductive surgery in advanced ovarian cancer; the gold standard of primary treatment in combination with systemic agents. The impact of tumor biology on treatment sequence is still understudied. It is obvious, that response to platinum-based therapy is crucial for the success of neoadjuvant chemotherapy. While high-grade serous and endometrioid tumors are commonly characterized by an excellent response, other subtypes are considered poor responders or even resistant to platinum. Undoubtedly, neoadjuvant chemotherapy may filter poor responders, but to date, we still do not have appropriate alternatives to platinum-based chemotherapy in the neoadjuvant and first-line setting and ‘adjusting’ systemic treatment in cases of poor response to neoadjuvant chemotherapy remains elusive. Primary cytoreduction is still considered the gold standard for fit patients with operable tumor dissemination patterns, especially for those ovarian cancer subtypes that show poor response to platinum. Of note, even in high-grade serous ovarian cancer, approximately 20% of tumors are platinum resistant and the benefit of neoadjuvant chemotherapy in this subgroup is limited. Interestingly, these tumors are associated with the mesenchymal molecular subtype, which in turn correlates with high risk for residual disease after cytoreductive surgery and is characterized by the worst survival outcome among high-grade ovarian cancers. This leads to the question, how to best tailor surgical radicality at the onset of patients’ presentation to avoid associated morbidity and with a moderate benefit. Here, we give an overview of recent advances of interaction between tumor biology and surgery in ovarian cancer.

  • Surgery
  • Ovarian Cancer
  • Cytoreduction surgical procedures
  • Carcinoma, Ovarian Epithelial
  • Gynecologic Surgical Procedures

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  • Contributors IT and CF: conceptualization, manuscript development, writing-original draft, writing-review, and editing.

  • 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.

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