Surgery, Chemotherapy and Ovarian Cancer

When it comes to cancers that are especially dangerous, many people think of breast cancer or lung cancer. While not quite as deadly, ovarian cancer remains a significant threat to women across the world. A recent study has offered a new perspective on how this disease should be treated.

What Comes First?

Conducted by a team from New York University’s (NYU) Perlmutter Cancer Center and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, this study attempted to answer this question using math. That’s right, math. The issue regarding ovarian cancer treatment concerns whether surgery should precede chemotherapy for high-grade serous ovarian cancer (HGSC).

Using a mathematical model, the study authors believe they have an answer; surgery should come before chemotherapy, rather than the other way around. Specifically, the medical procedure in question is known as primary debulking surgery.

Crunching the Numbers

The study’s senior author, Shengqing Gu, PhD, explained how the team arrived at its conclusions. “The issue of whether PDS or NACT should be used was highly controversial, and a major reason for it lies in the different characteristics of patients in different clinical studies,” stated Gu in a NYU Langone Medical Center press release. “We therefore built a mathematical model to simulate HGSC clinical course, which allows us to compare treatment outcomes in the same virtual patients and examine which group of patients may respond differently to PDS versus NACT.

Another study author, Benjamin G. Neel, MD, PhD, stated that his team’s work sheds some light on how serious cases of ovarian cancer should be addressed. “Our model, combined with earlier clinical data, suggests that for patients who can undergo complete debulking, surgery offers the best chance of long-term survival or even cure,” stated Neel, the director of NYU Langone’s Perlmutter Cancer Center. “Our model also provides some insight about optimal early detection and treatment intervals.”

The data the research team used for their model came from 300 cancer patients, who had taken part in previous studies related to this topic.

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