The aim of this study was to analyse patterns and timing of recurrence and their association with clinical outcomes in recurrent epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC) patients with no gross residual disease after primary debulking surgery (PDS).

This study was conducted on 303 EOC patients with no residual disease after PDS who were treated at the Samsung Medical Center from 2002 to 2012. By reviewing electronic medical records, information on date of clinical/pathological recurrence and pattern of disease presentation for each relapse were retrieved.

Within a median follow‐up of 53 months (range 3–156), 88 recurrences (29.0%) and 28 cancer‐related deaths (9.2%) were observed. Most of the recurrences were distant, discrete and transcoelomic. After complete cytoreduction, the initial stage was associated with location of recurrence, but not with recurrence patterns. Complete cytoreduction reduced the number of recurrences, but it did not affect timing of recurrence. In multivariate analysis for overall survival (OS), patients with distant recurrence, diffuse carcinomatosis and mixed spread pattern of transcoelomic, lymphatic and haematogenous recurrence were found to have higher risk.

We found that timing of recurrence was not affected by complete cytoreduction. Location, type and pattern of recurrence were also significant prognostic factors for OS, in addition to known prognostic predictors such as platinum sensitivity.