More than 23,400 new cases of ovarian cancer and 13,900 deaths are expected in the United States this year. Epithelial ovarian cancer is the most common histologic type of ovarian malignancy. Although there have been advances in the chemotherapeutic treatment of ovarian cancer, the five year survival of women with advanced-stage disease is 25-30%. Because the disease is typically asymptomatic until the disease has metastasized and because effective screening strategies are not unavailable, 70-75% of women present with advanced-stage disease. Of ovarian cancer cases, 90-95% are sporadic and 5-10% associated with germ-line mutations, including BRCA1 and BRCA2. Known risk factors for ovarian cancer include nulliparity and a strong family history of ovarian cancer. The use of oral contraceptives is known to decrease the risk of ovarian cancer: five years of use will decrease the risk by 50%. The staging of ovarian cancer (according to the International Federation of Obstetrics and Gynecology) requires surgical exploration. Determining the extent of disease is essential to appropriate management. Survival in patients with metastatic disease is improved in those who undergo optimal primary cytoreductive surgery. Adjuvant chemotherapy is recommended in patients with high-risk, early-stage disease and all patients with advanced-stage disease. Standard chemotherapy is a combination of paclitaxel and carboplatin. Selected patients with recurrent disease can undergo secondary cytoreductive surgery. Second-line chemotherapy for patients who initially respond to paclitaxel and carboplatin and who have a prolonged disease progression-free intervals (longer than 12 months) can be re-treated with either drug or both. Those whose responses to initial therapy were less successful can be treated with other chemotherapeutic agents--e.g., liposomal doxorubicin, topotecan, etoposide, gemcitabine or taxotere.
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View details for PubMedID 11499181