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Centralizing surgery for ovarian cancer in a ‘non-centralizing’ country (Belgium): the UNGO (UCLouvain Network of Gynaecological Oncology) experience

Int J Gynecol Cancer. 2023 Oct 16:ijgc-2023-004401. doi: 10.1136/ijgc-2023-004401. Online ahead of print.


OBJECTIVE: In Belgium there is no centralization of surgery for ovarian cancer, with more than 100 centers treating around 800 cases per year. In 2017 a network with several collaborating hospitals was established to centralize surgery for ovarian cancer (UCLouvain Network of Gynecological Oncology; UNGO) following publication of the European Society of Gynecological Oncology (ESGO) recommendations and quality criteria for surgery of advanced ovarian cancer. We obtained ESGO accreditation in 2019.

METHODS: We retrospectively collected data associated with patients undergoing surgery in our institution from 2007 to 2016, before the creation of the network (cohort 1) and, following the establishment of UNGO (2017-2021), patients undergoing surgery were prospectively registered in a REDCap database (cohort 2). The outcomes of the two cohorts were compared.

RESULTS: A total of 314 patients underwent surgery in our institution from 2007 and 2021: 7.5 patients/year in cohort 1 (retrospective, 2007-2016) and 40.8 patients/year in cohort 2 (after network creation, 2017-2021). Median disease-free survival was increased from 16.5 months (range 13.2-20.4) in cohort 1 to 27.1 months (range 21.5-33.2) in cohort 2 (p=0.0004). In cohort 2, the rate of patients with residual disease at the end of the surgery was significantly less (18.7% vs 8.8%, p=0.023), although more patients in cohort 1 received neoadjuvant chemotherapy (89% vs 54%, p<0.001). However, there was a higher rate of complications in the patients in cohort 2 (18.8% vs 30%, p=0.041).

CONCLUSION: Our study shows that, with the help of ESGO and its recommendations, we have been able to create an efficient advanced ovarian cancer centralized network and this may provide an improvement in the quality of care.

PMID:37844964 | DOI:10.1136/ijgc-2023-004401

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