Systemic treatment of Krukenberg tumors

Open access


Of all ovarian tumors with distinct biological features, 10-25% are secondary ovarian tumors. Among the most common cancers that cause ovarian metastasis are breast cancer, colorectal cancer, endometrium, as well as gastric and lateral cancer. Krukenberg tumors remain asymptomatic until the tumor reaches a certain size, as in the case of primary ovarian cancer. Symptoms are non-specific: abdominal pain (42%), postmenopausal bleeding (18%), weight loss (6%) and an increasing abdominal girth (15%). Diagnostic procedures should include physical examination, basic blood and biochemistry tests, radiographic imaging and endoscopy. There are currently no uniform guidelines to be followed in order to treat this cancer. However, the survival rate of selected subgroups of patients may be enhanced by means of cytoreductive surgery (performable among patients with good general health condition), where the metastases are limited only to the ovaries, where the primary tumor is derived from the colorectal cancer, and where there is the absence or minimal residual disease. It is still controversial to use adjuvant chemotherapy following the metastasectomy of Krukenberg tumors. Although this type of treatment seems to provide a survival benefit, there are currently no randomized prospective trials available so as to confirm or deny. Future research should, therefore, be focused on the potentially synergistic effect of surgery and perioperative administration of cytotoxic therapies targeted at high response rates. Studies on new molecularly targeted drugs can also be beneficial.

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