Cancerous tumors are composed of millions of cells. Therefore, as part of the initial treatment of advanced ovarian cancer, as many cells as possible are removed in a process called cytoreductive surgery.
Cytoreduction can be complete (no visible disease left), optimal (less than 1 centimeter nodules left) or suboptimal (more than 1 centimeter nodules left).
Cytoreduction can also be primary (the first part of treatment), interval (after some chemotherapy is given), secondary (for recurrence) or tertiary (after several recurrences). Whether or not cytoreductive surgery is performed depends on many factors including medical condition and ability to tolerate very extensive surgery.