Feature Article

Ovarian cancer: where are we now?

Feature Article

Ovarian cancer: where are we now?

Chris Dalrymple

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Abstract

Ovarian cancer has a well deserved reputation as a disease with high morbidity and poor survival. Survival is improved by diagnosis at the earliest time, skilled staging and surgery, and individualised chemotherapy.

Key Points

  • Ovarian carcinoma is uncommon but is associated with poor survival.
  • The majority of patients present with advanced disease, many having had nonspecific symptoms for some time.
  • Primary treatment is usually surgery followed by chemotherapy.
  • Certain tumours can now be treated with conservative surgery or chemotherapy alone in some instances, so preserving the reproductive potential of younger patients.
  • Success in treating ovarian cancer depends on diagnosis at the earliest time, appropriate staging and surgery by skilled specialists, and the tumour’s responsiveness to chemotherapy.
  • The best survival figures are achieved when the primary management is by a multidisciplinary team at a recognised gynaecological oncology centre.
  • While screening tests are available, their accuracy is poor and they are not cost effective.