From the Journals

In recurrent ovarian cancer, secondary surgery does not extend survival

Phase 3 findings ‘call into question’ merits of surgical cytoreduction



Secondary surgical cytoreduction was feasible but did not extend overall survival among women with platinum-sensitive, recurrent ovarian cancer in a prospective, randomized, phase 3 clinical trial, investigators report.

Women who received platinum-based chemotherapy plus surgery had a median overall survival of about 51 months, compared with 64.7 months for women who received platinum-based chemotherapy and no surgery, according to the results of the Gynecologic Oncology Group (GOG)-0213 study, a multicenter, open-label, randomized, phase 3 trial.

These findings “call into question” the merits of surgical cytoreduction, said the authors, led by Robert L. Coleman, MD, of the department of gynecologic oncology and reproductive medicine at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston.

Specifically, the shorter overall survival in the surgery group vs. no-surgery group emphasizes the “importance of formally assessing the value of the procedure in clinical care,” said Dr. Coleman and coauthors in the report on GOG-0213. The study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Clinical practice guidelines from the National Comprehensive Cancer Network currently cite secondary cytoreduction as an option for treatment of patients who experience a treatment-free interval of at least 6 months after a complete remission achieved on prior chemotherapy, the GOG-0213 investigators wrote.

Beyond GOG-0213, there are several other randomized trials underway in this setting, including DESKTOP III, a multicenter study comparing the efficacy of chemotherapy alone to chemotherapy plus additional tumor debulking surgery in women with recurrent platinum-sensitive ovarian cancer.

“Maturity of the DESKTOP III trial and other trials will shape the debate on the value or merit of surgery in this patient population,” wrote Dr. Coleman and colleagues.

The GOG-0213 study, conducted in 67 centers, 65 of which were in the United States, had both a chemotherapy objective and a surgical objective in patients with platinum-sensitive recurrent ovarian cancer, investigators said.

Results of the chemotherapy objective, published in 2017 in Lancet Oncology, indicated that bevacizumab added to standard chemotherapy, followed by maintenance bevacizumab until progression, improved median overall survival.

The more recently reported results focused on 485 women of who 245 were randomized to receive chemotherapy alone. While 240 were randomized to receive cytoreduction prior to chemotherapy, 15 declined surgery, leaving 225 eligible patients (94%).

The adjusted hazard ratio for death was 1.29 (95% confidence interval, 0.97-1.72; P = 0.08) for surgery, compared with no surgery, which translated into median overall survival times of 50.6 months in the surgery arm and 64.7 months in the no-surgery arm, Dr. Coleman and coauthors reported.

However, 30-day morbidity and mortality were low, at 9% (20 patients) and 0.4% (1 patient), and just 4% of cases (8 patients) were aborted, they added.

Quality of life significantly declined right after secondary cytoreduction, although after recovery no significant differences were found between groups, according to the investigators.

Taken together, those findings “did not indicate that surgery plus chemotherapy was superior to chemotherapy alone,” investigators concluded.

However, several factors in GOG-0213, including longer-than-expected survival times and substantial platinum sensitivity among women in the trial, could have diluted an independent surgical effect, they said.

Dr. Coleman reported disclosures related to several pharmaceutical companies, including Agenus, AstraZeneca, Clovis, GamaMabs, Genmab, Janssen, Medivation, Merck, Regeneron, Roche/Genentech, OncoQuest, and Tesaro.

SOURCE: Coleman RL et al. N Engl J Med. 2019;381:1929-39.

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