Purpose: We sought to examine how splenectomy as part of up-front cytoreductive surgery in ovarian cancer influences the postoperative course and affects survival. Methods: We reviewed cases of ovarian cancer diagnosed at Massachusetts General Hospital from 1994 to 2008 and found 44 patients who had a splenectomy as part of their up-front cytoreductive surgery. These were compared to 171 patients who did not undergo splenectomy. We evaluated age at diagnosis, estimated blood loss, percentage of patients whose disease was optimally cytoreduced (<1 cm), reason for splenectomy (oncologic vs. surgical), length of stay, time to first chemotherapy treatment, and survival. Results: In the splenectomy cohort, the mean age at diagnosis was 64 (44-83) years. A total of 37 of 44 (84%) patients were optimally cytoreduced. Mean estimated blood loss was 1326 ml. The purpose of splenectomy was to accomplish an optimal cytoreduction (oncologic) in 82% of cases. Median length of stay was 13 (6-76) days. Median time to first chemotherapy was 13.5 (5-54) days. The median disease-free interval and overall survival of the splenectomy cohort were 8 and 30 months, respectively. The median overall survival for patients whose disease was optimally cytoreduced in the splenectomy cohort compared to the no-splenectomy group was 30 and 45 months (P < 0.045), respectively. Conclusions: The addition of splenectomy to up-front cytoreductive surgery was feasible and safe. However, it appears to carry with it a shortened survival that is unrelated to postoperative morbidity. Our data raise the questions that splenectomy is needed for optimal cytoreduction in more biologically aggressive disease and that splenectomy may be an independent prognostic factor related to depressed immune function.
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