A trial looking at surgery for ovarian cancer that has come back (DESKTOP 3)

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Cancer type:

Ovarian cancer




Phase 3

This trial looked at chemotherapy and surgery for women with ovarian cancer that has come back (relapsed). It was supported by Cancer Research UK.

More about this trial

Ovarian cancer, fallopian tube cancer and primary peritoneal cancer are all similar and are treated in the same way. So when we use the term ovarian cancer in this summary, we are referring to all 3.

The main treatments for ovarian cancer are surgery and chemotherapy. But sometimes the cancer starts to grow again. Doctors usually treat ovarian cancer that has started to grow again with chemotherapy.

In this trial, doctors were looking at women whose cancer had come back after chemotherapy that included a platinum drug such as carboplatin. They wanted to find out if surgery and chemotherapy is better than chemotherapy alone, for ovarian cancer that has come back.

The aims of this study were to find out:

  • if surgery and chemotherapy is better than chemotherapy alone for ovarian cancer that has come back 
  • more about the side effects

Summary of results

This trial recruited 407 women with ovarian cancer. They’d all had treatment with a platinum chemotherapy drug (such as carboplatin) before, but their cancer had started to grow again.

The women taking part were put into 1 of 2 treatment groups at random, and:

  • 204 women had chemotherapy
  • 203 women had surgery and then chemotherapy

The research team looked at how long it was before the cancer started to grow again. They found it was:

  • 14 months for those who had chemotherapy
  • 20 months for those who had surgery and chemotherapy

When they looked at the side effects, they found they were similar in both groups. A few more women who had chemotherapy alone had a temporary drop in blood cells.

The research team are still following the women who took part in this trial and analysing the results. They hope to release more results in the future, including information about how long the women in both groups lived after joining the trial. We plan to update the information on this page once these results are available. 

They concluded that, so far, the results show that surgery and chemotherapy should be an option for ovarian cancer that has come back after treatment.

We have based this summary on information from the research team. The information they sent us has been reviewed by independent specialists (peer reviewed Open a glossary item) but may not have been published in a medical journal.  The figures we quote above were provided by the research team. We have not analysed the data ourselves.

Recruitment start:

Recruitment end:

How to join a clinical trial

Please note: In order to join a trial you will need to discuss it with your doctor, unless otherwise specified.

Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Chief Investigator

Professor David Luesley

Supported by

Cancer Research UK
Cancer Research UK Clinical Trials Unit Birmingham
Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre (ECMC)
NIHR Clinical Research Network: Cancer

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Last review date

CRUK internal database number:


Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Wendy took part in a new trial studying the possible side effect of hearing loss

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"I was delighted to take part in a clinical trial as it has the potential to really help others in the future.”

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