Open Access Highly Accessed Research

A retrospective analysis of pegylated liposomal doxorubicin in ovarian cancer: do we still need it?

Nicoletta Staropoli, Domenico Ciliberto, Cirino Botta, Lucia Fiorillo, Simona Gualtieri, Angela Salvino, Pierfrancesco Tassone and Pierosandro Tagliaferri*

Author Affiliations

Medical Oncology Unit, Department of Experimental and Clinical Medicine, Magna Græcia University and Tommaso Campanella Cancer Center, Campus Salvatore Venuta, Catanzaro, Italy

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Journal of Ovarian Research 2013, 6:10  doi:10.1186/1757-2215-6-10

Published: 6 February 2013



Ovarian cancer (OC) is the sixth most common cancer in women. Currently, carboplatin/paclitaxel ± bevacizumab is the cornerstone of front-line treatment. Conversely, the therapeutic options for recurrent or progressive disease are not well defined. For platinum-sensitive patients the best therapeutic approach is still a re-challenge with a platinum-based regimen. Pegylated liposomal doxorubicin (PLD), is considered one of the most active therapeutic options for recurrent or progressive OC. In this retrospective mono-institutional analysis, we evaluated the impact of PLD on the outcome of OC patients.

Patients and methods

We performed the retrospective study on a cohort of 108 patients with histologically confirmed serous papillary OC, followed at our Institution between 2001 and 2011. 80 patients were in stage III/IV and 55 of them received a second-line treatment. Thirty patients were treated with PLD. Both groups (PLD-treated versus PLD-untreated) underwent a median of 3 treatment lines and were prognostically balanced. The median follow-up was 60 months. Survival endpoints, toxicity and correlations between patients’ baseline characteristics and treatment efficacy were evaluated.


Patients who had undergone PLD treatment (PLD group) showed a median overall survival (OS) of 45 months as compared to 65 months of patients not treated with PLD (PLD-free group) (HR 2.50 [0.95-6.67; p = 0.06]). Moreover, the median progression-free survival was 6 months in the PLD group versus 10 months in the PLD-free group (HR 1.75 [0.94-3.34; p = 0.07]). The overall objective response rate in II line treatment was 43% (13% in PLD group versus 57% in PLD-free group). Furthermore, we investigated survival endpoints in platinum-refractory patients who received PLD at least once during the course of disease. No OS advantage was achieved by PLD administration when compared to other therapeutic options (30 versus 32 months; HR 1.16 [0.31-4.34; p = 0.81]). No difference in term of toxicity was observed among different groups.


No evidence of superiority if PLD was compared to alternative agents was found in this analysis, particularly in the platinum-refractory setting. Our findings indicate a modest therapeutic activity of PLD in OC. Analysis of cost/benefit of PLD in OC is eagerly awaited.

Ovarian cancer; Systemic chemotherapy; Pegylated liposomal doxorubicin; Second line treatment; Platinum refractory patients