According to a Cancer Research United Kingdom study, women with advanced ovarian cancer have fewer side effects and tend to have a better quality of life if given chemotherapy before surgery.
Ovarian cancer is the most common cause of death amongst gynecological cancers and the fifth most common cause of cancer death among women in the United Kingdom.
The trial was conducted at the Medical Research Council Clinical Trials Unit at University College London and it challenged the international standard for treating advanced ovarian cancer.
550 women with the disease took part in the trial, 276 of the women were given the standard treatment of surgery followed by six cycles of chemotherapy and 274 had surgery after three cycles of chemotherapy.
The Cancer Research United Kingdom funded trial found that post-surgery complications and death within 28 days of surgery was most common among women given surgery first. Women who received delayed surgery suffered fewer symptoms, an overall reduction of side effects and a lower death rate.
Delaying surgery also reduced the amount of time the patient spent in the hospital post-surgery.
The trial is the largest surgical trial of its kind in the United Kingdom and second largest in the world. The study aimed to see if this new strategy of treatment was a good alternative to the traditional approach.
The trial showed that shrinking the tumor before surgery reduced side effects and hospital stay. This improves quality of life without compromising survival which is better for patients.
This study is an example of how research can help experts plan the best care for people with cancer. Whether to have chemotherapy before major surgery for ovarian cancer has always been a dilemma for women and their surgeons. This study demonstrates that that chemotherapy first makes the surgery safer, the stay in the hospital shorter and women’s quality of life better.