Role of minimally invasive surgery in ovarian cancer

Farr R. Nezhat, Tanja Pejovic, Tamara N. Finger, Susan S. Khalil

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations


The standard treatment of ovarian cancer includes upfront surgery with intent to accurately diagnose and stage the disease and to perform maximal cytoreduction, followed by chemotherapy in most cases. Surgical staging of ovarian cancer traditionally has included exploratory laparotomy with peritoneal washings, hysterectomy, salpingo-oophorectomy, omentectomy, multiple peritoneal biopsies, and possible pelvic and para-aortic lymphadenectomy. In the early 1990s, pioneers in laparoscopic surgery used minimally invasive techniques to treat gynecologic cancers, including laparoscopic staging of early ovarian cancer and primary and secondary cytoreduction in advanced and recurrent disease in selected cases. Since then, the role of minimally invasive surgery in gynecologic oncology has been continually expanding, and today advanced laparoscopic and robotic-assisted laparoscopic techniques are used to evaluate and treat cervical and endometrial cancer. However, the important question about the place of the minimally invasive approach in surgical treatment of ovarian cancer remains to be evaluated and answered. Overall, the potential role of minimally invasive surgery in treatment of ovarian cancer is as follows: i) laparoscopic evaluation, diagnosis, and staging of apparent early ovarian cancer; ii) laparoscopic assessment of feasibility of upfront surgical cytoreduction to no visible disease; iii) laparoscopic debulking of advanced ovarian cancer; iv) laparoscopic reassessment in patients with complete remission after primary treatment; and v) laparoscopic assessment and cytoreduction of recurrent disease. The accurate diagnosis of suspect adnexal masses, the safety and feasibility of this surgical approach in early ovarian cancer, the promise of laparoscopy as the most accurate tool for triaging patients with advanced disease for surgery vs upfront chemotherapy or neoadjuvant chemotherapy, and its potential in treatment of advanced cancer have been documented and therefore should be incorporated in the surgical methods of every gynecologic oncology unit and in the training programs in gynecologic oncology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)754-765
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Minimally Invasive Gynecology
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2013


  • Cytoreduction
  • Laparoscopy
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Robotic-assisted laparoscopy
  • Staging

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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