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The prognostic and predictive role of pain before systemic chemotherapy in recurrent ovarian cancer: an individual participant data meta-analysis of the North-Eastern German Society of Gynecological Oncology (NOGGO) of 1226 patients



Aim of this study was to analyze the impact of pain on quality of life and survival in recurrent OC patients.


Raw data including the QLQ-C30 questionnaire from three phase II/III trials (“Topotecan phase III,” “Hector,” and “TRIAS”) conducted by the North-Eastern German Society of Gynecological Oncology (NOGGO) were synthesized and analyzed using logistic and Cox regression analyses.


Data on pain was available for 952 patients out of 1226. Moderate to severe pain, which was defined as pain ≥ 50 in the QLQ-C30 symptom scale, was experienced by more than one-third of patients (36.6%). A total of 31% were taking non-opioid pain medication and 16% opioids. Median age at randomization was 61 years (range 25–84). Most patients (84.7%) were diagnosed in FIGO III/IV. Pain was independent from age, FIGO stage, grading, amount of recurrences, and chemotherapy-free interval. ECOG was significantly worse in patients with pain (p < 0.001). Fatigue, nausea/vomiting, sleeping disorders, and abdominal symptoms such as loss of appetite, diarrhea, and constipation were more frequently found in patients with pain (all p < 0.001). Quality of life was significantly diminished (p < 0.001). Pain was also an independent marker for overall survival (OS). Median OS was 18.2 months in patients with pain compared with 22.0 months in patients without pain (p = 0.013, HR 1.25, 95% confidence interval 1.05–1.48). OS was shorter in patients with pain and without pain medication compared with those on sufficient pain medication, whereas OS was mostly decreased in patients having pain despite pain medication (18.5, 19.6, and 15.0 months respectively; p = 0.026). Progression-free survival and prior treatment discontinuation were not associated with pain.


Best supportive care including sufficient pain medication should be delivered as early as possible because effective pain management is crucial for both quality of life and overall survival in patients with recurrent ovarian cancer.

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Correspondence to H. Woopen.

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There are no potential conflicts of interest regarding this article. Dr. Hannah Woopen, MSc was participant in the Charité Clinical Scientist Program funded by the Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin and the Berlin Institute of Health.

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Woopen, H., Richter, R., Inci, G. et al. The prognostic and predictive role of pain before systemic chemotherapy in recurrent ovarian cancer: an individual participant data meta-analysis of the North-Eastern German Society of Gynecological Oncology (NOGGO) of 1226 patients. Support Care Cancer 28, 1997–2003 (2020).

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  • Pain
  • Supportive care
  • Recurrent ovarian cancer
  • Prognosis