An international phase III randomised trial of dose fractionated chemotherapy compared to standard three weekly chemotherapy, following immediate primary surgery or as part of delayed primary surgery, for women with newly diagnosed epithelial ovarian, fallopian tube or primary peritoneal cancer

Weekly chemotherapy in ovarian cancer

What is this study about?

Ovarian cancer is the fourth most common cancer in women and is usually treated by a combination of surgery and chemotherapy. Surgery is performed to remove as much of the cancer as possible. Chemotherapy is the name given to drug treatments which are given to kill or control the growth of cancer cells and to reduce the chances of the cancer coming back at a later stage (recurrence). Previous research has shown that, on average, patients who are treated with chemotherapy after surgery for ovarian cancer live longer than those who are not. Usually two drugs, carboplatin and paclitaxel (also sometimes called Taxol) are used. These drugs are internationally recommended by experts for the treatment of ovarian cancer. They are referred to as ‘standard chemotherapy’. This treatment is usually given once every three weeks for 18 weeks (also known as 6 cycles).

Although in many patients surgery is performed before chemotherapy starts, research has shown that in some cases it is safe to delay surgery until after 3 doses or cycles of chemotherapy.

Recent studies have suggested that giving chemotherapy more frequently than once every three weeks is also effective. This type of treatment, known as dose-fractionated chemotherapy involves giving paclitaxel or carboplatin at a lower dose every week during treatment. In ICON8 we refer to this as ‘weekly chemotherapy’.

In this study we wanted to find out if weekly chemotherapy is more effective than standard chemotherapy treatment in ovarian cancer. We also wanted to see if weekly chemotherapy causes more or fewer side-effects than standard chemotherapy. Although weekly chemotherapy involves more doses of chemotherapy than standard chemotherapy, the treatment course is the same length for both types of treatment.

Type of study

Randomised trial

Contact details


Who is funding the study?

This trial is funded by the charity Cancer Research UK, and supported by the UK Medical Research Council.

When is it taking place?

The trial recruited women from June 2011 until November 2014. 1566 women were recruited into the study.

Where is it taking place?

The trial was run in 88 UK hospitals and internationally in Korea, Republic of Ireland, Mexico and Australia.

Who is included?

Women that have newly diagnosed ovarian, fallopian tube or primary peritoneal cancer.