Last year in the UK over 60,000 cancer patients enrolled on clinical trials aimed at improving cancer treatments and making them available to all.
A trial looking at surgery for ovarian cancer that has come back (DESKTOP 3, ENGOT ov20)
This trial looked at chemotherapy and surgery for women with ovarian cancer that has come back (relapsed).
The trial was supported by Cancer Research UK. It was open for people to join between 2010 and 2015. The research team presented long term results in 2020.
More about this trial
Ovarian cancer, fallopian tube cancer and primary peritoneal cancer are all similar and doctors usually use the same treatment for all three. We talk about ovarian cancer in this summary, but we are referring to all of these cancers.
The main treatments for ovarian cancer are surgery and chemotherapy. But sometimes the cancer starts to grow again. When this trial was done, doctors usually used chemotherapy to treat ovarian cancer that had started to grow again.
In this trial, they wanted to find out if surgery and chemotherapy is better than chemotherapy alone, for ovarian cancer that has come back.
The main aims of this trial 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
The research team found that surgery and chemotherapy could be a useful treatment for ovarian cancer that has come back.
This trial was for women with ovarian cancer who’d had treatment with a platinum chemotherapy drug (such as carboplatin). It was for women whose cancer had started to grow again.
The women taking part were put into 1 of 2 treatment groups at random. Half had chemotherapy, and half had chemotherapy and surgery.
A total of 407 women took part in this trial. There were:
- 201 in the chemotherapy group
- 206 in the surgery and chemotherapy group
The research team looked at how long it was before the cancer started to grow again. They found it was:
- 1 year and 2 months for those who had chemotherapy
- just over 1 year and 6 months for those who had surgery and chemotherapy
And when they looked at how long women in each group lived for, they found it was:
- just over 3 years and 10 months for those who had chemotherapy
- just under 4 years and 6 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 concluded that women who had surgery and chemotherapy lived longer than those who had chemotherapy alone. And that this combination should be offered to women whose ovarian cancer has come back after treatment.
Where this information comes from
We have based this summary on information from the research team. The information they sent us has been reviewed by independent specialists (
How to join a clinical trial
Professor David Luesley
Cancer Research UK
Cancer Research UK Clinical Trials Unit Birmingham
Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre (ECMC)
NIHR Clinical Research Network: Cancer