During an international workshop held in September 1998, a group of specialists in the field of ovarian cancer reached consensus on a number of issues with implications for standard practice and for research of advanced epithelial ovarian cancer.Five groups of experts considered several issues which included: biologic factors, prognostic factors, surgery, initial chemotherapy, second-line treatment, the use of CA 125, investigational drugs, intra-peritoneal treatment and high-dose chemotherapy. The group attempted to arrive at answers to questions such as: Are there prognostic factors, which help to identify patients who will not do well with current therapy? What is the current best therapy for advanced ovarian carcinoma? What directions should research take in advanced ovarian cancer? These issues were discussed in a plenary meeting.One of the major conclusions drawn by the consensus committee was that in previously untreated advanced ovarian cancer, cisplatin plus paclitaxel has been shown to be superior to previous standard therapy with cisplatin plus cyclophosphamide (level I evidence). However, for many patients, carboplatin plus paclitaxel is a reasonable alternative because of toxicity and convenience considerations. Most participants felt that the benefits in terms of toxicity for the paclitaxel-carboplatin are such that its widespread adoption at this stage is justified. Until mature survival data are available a minority of investigators would recommend continued use of cisplatin plus paclitaxel, specifically for those patients with advanced disease with the best prognostic characteristics. For future clinical research in this area, new end points for randomised clinical trials, together with a new Trials Network, are proposed.
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