Neoadjuvant chemotherapy before surgery versus surgery followed by chemotherapy for initial treatment in advanced ovarian epithelial cancer

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Background: Epithelial ovarian cancer presents at an advanced stage in the majority of women. These women require a combination of surgery and chemotherapy for optimal treatment. Conventional treatment has been to perform surgery first and then give chemotherapy. However, there may be advantages to using chemotherapy before surgery. Objectives: To assess whether there is an advantage to treating women with advanced epithelial ovarian cancer with chemotherapy before debulking surgery (neoadjuvant chemotherapy (NACT)) compared with conventional treatment where chemotherapy follows debulking surgery (primary debulking surgery (PDS)). Search methods: We searched the following databases up to 9 October 2020: the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL), Embase via Ovid, MEDLINE (Silver Platter/Ovid), PDQ and MetaRegister. We also checked the reference lists of relevant papers that were identified to search for further studies. The main investigators of relevant trials were contacted for further information. Selection criteria: Randomised controlled trials (RCTs) of women with advanced epithelial ovarian cancer (Federation of International Gynaecologists and Obstetricians (FIGO) stage III/IV) who were randomly allocated to treatment groups that compared platinum-based chemotherapy before cytoreductive surgery with platinum-based chemotherapy following cytoreductive surgery. Data collection and analysis: Two review authors independently extracted data and assessed risk of bias in each included trial. We extracted data of overall (OS) and progression-free survival (PFS), adverse events, surgically-related mortality and morbidity and quality of life outcomes. We used GRADE methods to determine the certainty of evidence. Main results: We identified 2227 titles and abstracts through our searches, of which five RCTs of varying quality and size met the inclusion criteria. These studies assessed a total of 1774 women with stage IIIc/IV ovarian cancer randomised to NACT followed by interval debulking surgery (IDS) or PDS followed by chemotherapy. We pooled results of the four studies where data were available and found little or no difference with regard to overall survival (OS) (Hazard Ratio (HR) 0.96, 95% CI 0.86 to 1.08; participants = 1692; studies = 4; high-certainty evidence) or progression-free survival in four trials where we were able to pool data (Hazard Ratio 0.98, 95% CI 0.88 to 1.08; participants = 1692; studies = 4; moderate-certainty evidence). Adverse events, surgical morbidity and quality of life (QoL) outcomes were variably and incompletely reported across studies. There are probably clinically meaningful differences in favour of NACT compared to PDS with regard to overall postoperative serious adverse effects (SAE grade 3+): 6% in NACT group, versus 29% in PDS group, (risk ratio (RR) 0.22, 95% CI 0.13 to 0.38; participants = 435; studies = 2; heterogeneity index (I2) = 0%; moderate-certainty evidence). NACT probably results in a large reduction in the need for stoma formation: 5.9% in NACT group, versus 20.4% in PDS group, (RR 0.29, 95% CI 0.12 to 0.74; participants = 632; studies = 2; I2 = 70%; moderate-certainty evidence), and probably reduces the risk of needing bowel resection at the time of surgery: 13.0% in NACT group versus 26.6% in PDS group (RR 0.49, 95% CI 0.30 to 0.79; participants = 1565; studies = 4; I2 = 79%; moderate-certainty evidence). NACT reduces postoperative mortality: 0.6% in NACT group, versus 3.6% in PDS group, (RR 0.16, 95% CI 0.06 to 0.46; participants = 1623; studies = 5; I2 = 0%; high-certainty evidence). QoL on the European Organization for the Research and Treatment of Cancer Quality of Life Questionnaire (EORTC QLQ-C30) scale produced inconsistent and imprecise results in three studies (MD -0.29, 95% CI -2.77 to 2.20; participants = 524; studies = 3; I2 = 81%; very low-certainty evidence) but the evidence is very uncertain and should be interpreted with caution. Authors' conclusions: The available high to moderate-certainty evidence suggests there is little or no difference in primary survival outcomes between PDS and NACT. NACT probably reduces the risk of serious adverse events, especially those around the time of surgery, and reduces the risk of postoperative mortality and the need for stoma formation. These data will inform women and clinicians (involving specialist gynaecological multidisciplinary teams) and allow treatment to be tailored to the person, taking into account surgical resectability, age, histology, stage and performance status. Data from an unpublished study and ongoing studies are awaited.




Coleridge, S. L., Bryant, A., Kehoe, S., & Morrison, J. (2021, July 30). Neoadjuvant chemotherapy before surgery versus surgery followed by chemotherapy for initial treatment in advanced ovarian epithelial cancer. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. John Wiley and Sons Ltd.

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