SUMMARY: The American Cancer Society estimates that over 22,280 women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer in the United States for 2016 and over 14,240 will die of the disease. Ovarian cancer ranks fifth in cancer deaths among women, accounting for more deaths than any other cancer of the female reproductive system. For the past 40 years, primary cytoreductive surgery followed by chemotherapy has been the standard approach, for women with advanced epithelial ovarian cancer. The benefit of neoadjuvant chemotherapy followed by interval debulking surgery was recognized in the early 1990’s, especially when treating those with advanced age, stage and associated comorbidities. An Expert Panel from the Society of Gynecologic Oncology and the American Society of Clinical Oncology conducted a systematic review of the literature and the primary evidence for these recommendations is based on four phase III clinical trials. The following recommendations are meant to provide guidance to Health Care Providers regarding the use of neoadjuvant chemotherapy and interval cytoreduction among women with stage IIIC or IV epithelial ovarian cancer. The following clinical questions were addressed:
What clinical evaluations should be performed in all women with suspected or newly diagnosed stage IIIC or IV epithelial ovarian cancer?
Recommendation 1.1. All women with suspected stage IIIC or IV invasive epithelial ovarian cancer should be evaluated by a gynecologic oncologist prior to initiation of therapy to determine whether they are candidates for primary cytoreductive surgery.
Recommendation 1.2. A primary clinical evaluation should include a CT scan of the abdomen and pelvis with Oral and IV contrast and chest imaging (CT preferred), to evaluate the extent of disease and feasibility of surgical resection. The use of other tools to refine this assessment may include laparoscopic evaluation or additional radiographic imaging such as PET scan or MRI.
Which patient and disease factors should be used as criteria for identifying patients who are not suitable for primary cytoreductive surgery?
Recommendation 2.1. Women who have a high perioperative risk profile, or a low likelihood of achieving cytoreduction to less than 1 cm, ideally to no visible disease, should receive neoadjuvant chemotherapy.
Recommendation 2.2. Decisions that women are not eligible for medical or surgical cancer treatment, should be made after consultation with a gynecologic oncologist and/or a medical oncologist with gynecologic expertise.
How do neoadjuvant chemotherapy and primary cytoreductive surgery compare with respect to progression-free survival, overall survival, and perioperative morbidity and mortality in women who are fit for primary cytoreduction and have potentially resectable disease, and how should this information be used to select initial treatment?
Recommendation 3.1. For women who are fit for primary cytoreductive surgery, with potentially resectable disease, either neoadjuvant chemotherapy or primary cytoreductive surgery may be offered, based on data from phase III randomized, controlled trials that demonstrate neoadjuvant chemotherapy is noninferior to primary cytoreductive surgery with respect to Progression Free and Overall Survival. Neoadjuvant chemotherapy is associated with less peri- and postoperative morbidity and mortality and shorter hospitalizations, but primary cytoreductive surgery may offer superior survival in selected patients.
Recommendation 3.2. For women with a high likelihood of achieving cytoreduction to less than 1 cm (ideally to no visible disease) and with acceptable morbidity, primary cytoreductive surgery is recommended over neoadjuvant chemotherapy.
Recommendation 3.3. For women who are fit for primary cytoreductive surgery but are deemed unlikely to have cytoreduction to less than 1 cm (ideally to no visible disease) by a gynecologic oncologist, neoadjuvant chemotherapy is recommended over primary cytoreductive surgery. Neoadjuvant chemotherapy is associated with less peri and postoperative morbidity and mortality and shorter hospitalizations.
What additional clinical evaluations should be performed in women with suspected or newly diagnosed stage IIIC or IV epithelial ovarian cancer before neoadjuvant chemotherapy is delivered?
Recommendation 4. Before neoadjuvant chemotherapy is delivered, all patients should have histologic confirmation (core biopsy preferred) of an invasive ovarian, fallopian tube, or peritoneal cancer. In exceptional cases, when a biopsy cannot be performed, cytologic evaluation combined with a serum CA-125 to carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) ratio more than 25 is acceptable, to confirm the primary diagnosis and exclude a non-gynecologic cancer.
What is the preferred chemotherapy regimen for women with stage IIIC or IV epithelial ovarian cancer who will receive neoadjuvant chemotherapy?
Recommendation 5. For neoadjuvant chemotherapy, a Platinum-Taxane doublet is recommended. However, alternative regimens, containing a Platinum agent, may be selected based on individual patient factors.
Among women treated with neoadjuvant chemotherapy, does the timing of interval cytoreduction or the number of chemotherapy cycles after interval cytoreduction affect the safety or efficacy of treatment?
Recommendation 6. Randomized, controlled trials tested surgery following three or four cycles of chemotherapy in women who had a response to neoadjuvant chemotherapy or stable disease. Interval cytoreductive surgery should be performed after up to four cycles of neoadjuvant chemotherapy for women with a response to chemotherapy or stable disease. Alternative timing of surgery has not been prospectively evaluated but may be considered based on patient-centered factors.
What are the treatment options for patients with progressive disease on neoadjuvant chemotherapy?
Recommendation 7. Patients with progressive disease on neoadjuvant chemotherapy have a poor prognosis. Options include alternative chemotherapy regimens, clinical trials, and/or discontinuation of active cancer therapy and initiation of end-of-life care. In general, there is little role for surgery, and it is not typically advised, unless for palliation such as relief of bowel obstruction. Neoadjuvant Chemotherapy for Newly Diagnosed, Advanced Ovarian Cancer: Society of Gynecologic Oncology and American Society of Clinical Oncology Clinical Practice Guideline. Wright AA, Bohlke K, Armstrong DK, et al. Journal of Clinical Oncology 2016;34:3460-3473